Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Elephant's breath

We entered the water gingerly for Meena was huge and the sludge between our toes perturbing. The river was warm, as warm as bath water, as the morning sun beat relentlessly on our skin. The mahouts beckoned us forward for the morning ritual of scrubbing yesterdays dust from the elephants body, they passed us coconut shells and invited us to imitate their movements, shouting in Malayalam which Meena clearly understood. Her hulk lay motionless in the river as she enjoyed her morning pampering, the mahouts left no area unclean, taking great pride in their work. Their dotis were soaked through so that their sinewy frames were clearly visible, their brown skin shining in the morning light, smiling wide, sparkly, white smiles to encourage us to feel and touch every area of the beautiful beast.

I was completely overwhelmed, the familiar lump stuck hard in my throat and tears sneaked out from my eyes as I looked into hers. Thank you Meena I whispered, thank you for letting me touch you I spoke, trying to connect with her small yellow eye. Her trunk followed us round in the river, exploring our foreign smells and engulfing the children's bodies completely and gently. She exhaled long warm breaths, elephant breaths, through her incredible and sensitive trunk, gently probing at our clothes and enquiring our origin. I have never been so humbled.

' Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened ' - Anatole France

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