A small boy ran on the road shouting “Maharaj aa rahe hain, Maharaj!” at the top of his voice, behind him several little ones were running at a speed that could put our Olympic sprinters to shame. I looked eagerly in the direction from which these kids had come. Common sense went out of the window and I stood hoping to see a procession of people clad in elegant, zaridaar, royal regalia …. decked up in gold. Rolling drums and warning calls. The Maharaj himself would be on a magnificent horse looking on at his ‘Praja’ throwing gold and silver coins.
For a while nothing happened. All I saw was a strangely empty road devoid of the usual hustle bustle of the evening, children cycling, pet dogs walking their owners and the ever yapping group of maids. Curiosity got the better of me and I opened my gate and walked to a point from where I could see the colony gate. I still couldn’t hear the drums, what I did hear was an unusual sounding horn. Maharaj was definitely coming in a strange vehicle. And then I heard it again! It was a trumpet! ..No..no not the brass musical instrument with a brilliant tone ( what are you thinking?!!) …it was a trumpet as in ‘cry of an elephant.’ And I heard it again…gosh! Maharaj was coming on an elephant
I stood there and waited with anticipation. Hundreds of years ago people would have waited like this for a glimpse of their Raja, the King of their land, revered, and respected, given the status of god, his principles to be followed, O! the righteous King. Jai ho! Jai ho! Flashes of pictures from the Amar Chitra Kathas came alive in my mind. However, in entered a lone elephant… trumpeting aloud (without the maharaja). It shook its head; the long white tusk glistened and it trumpeted again. Its trunk then stayed at the top and it smelled the air left and right and then in front. With another head shake it decided to forge ahead straight towards me. For an elephant so huge and heavy it trotted surprisingly lightly on its trunk like legs. Trunk up, tail straight and parallel to the road, dashing on, it was a sight to be seen.
I was rooted to the spot, unable to move I looked enthralled with disbelief. I had heard of stories of elephants entering the colony but never imagined it would do so from the main gate. All around the colony there was thick vegetation and undergrowth. Layers of barbed wires existed supposedly to safe guard us from such invasions. It was now only a few feet away, ears flapping, head shaking, it was majestic and I felt tiny, so irrelevant, and no match. Trample me! I don’t deserve to exist in your land. This is your territory, I have invaded it and occupied it and ousted you oh! Glorious One.
When I looked at the elephant all powerful and so strong, I had revelation of sorts for humans, so small and incomparable we have defeated all other species, overpowered them with our mighty intelligence, brain power. We piddly Homo sapiens. The meaning of Homo sapiens learnt while studying history? biology? some 25 years ago made more sense at this moment: The only surviving hominid; species to which modern man belongs; bipedal primate having language and ability to make and use complex tools; brain volume at least 1400 cc. Black or white, female or male, any caste or creed, it doesn’t matter, we are the species which has transformed all odds and conquered all living things. We have the power to occupy all the space, we have the greed to want more space after occupying all space.
This was no time for contemplation but for survival! One more second and I would be mashed potatoes under its legs. Then it would toss me, gore me with its tusks and fling me into the bushes…..dare you stand on my path…
I came to my senses and rushed into my cage of bricks and cement. One bang and the elephant could break the wall. One bang and we could lose everything we had bought over our lifetime of living and travel. One bang and it could all be over.
But it did nothing of the sort and went for the jackfruit and banana trees in our garden. Couple of more elephants joined in and had a party. The herd knew exactly where to go, which garden to invade and which route to take.
It left... with many broken fences but luckily no broken bones in its wake.