The drowning elephant.
It was a stormy evening; black clouds were hovering, it was about to rain very heavily, and Kalia was flying above the forest. However, he didn't like it here. He preferred the human dump, where he could always find some food. Today he came to the woods because some animal was dead and the smell was too tempting to resist, but the vultures drove him away. Suddenly it started to rain and he knew he had to take shelter. So, he sat on a Sal tree.
He then heard a sound like someone was crying.
" Somebody help me. Mother! Mother! Raja!"
"Mother!!! Where am I? Mother Mother!! Rajaaaa..."
"Son, Who are you? How did you land up here in this ditch ?"
"I am Chintu. And you?"
"I am Kalia, the crow; where is your herd?"
"I lost them."
"It's been many days since I was lost. I miss my mother. It's scary here. I miss Mama's long trunk, her skin, I miss her. I tried my best but couldn't find her. Mom... "
The old crow felt terrible for him, but he knew he was helpless. The only animals that could help him were either humans or his mom.
"How did it happen? Where can find her or this Raja ?"
"All I wanted was to play. Explore and be with mom and my herd."
"You know how hot it was a few days ago, all ponds in the forest were dry, and Lali the Great Mother (even my mom is afraid of her) was worried. She hadn't seen such weather in her lifetime.
Lali always tells us those stories when their herd used to roam in the area beneath the mountains, where there were huge rivers, and lakes and the forest was much bigger. She said they could go to the river and bathe and enjoy, but now the whole forest has been fragmented by the strange black paths built by the humans, and so many human settlements have come up. The biggest problem has been mainly the black path made between the river and forest, and on that path, lots and lots of humans move here and there with their strange animals which run too fast and make noise, the herd is wary of them they know their limits. Still, the herd can go, but they avoid that path because they know humans are unpredictable and want to avoid confrontation. It is a significant rule of our herd that we can't hurt humans. Or else the result can be difficult. Many herd members, especially the males, get killed or captured every year primarily because of this."
"So, we avoid it. We wait, and when it's night and no one is there, the great mother takes us to the river to drink. I love it there. The water is calm, and Mom bathes me. I throw mud over myself. I play with my big brother, and just before the sunrise, we leave for the forest so that the herd can avoid the humans.
But that day, it was so hot we couldn't control ourselves. We were thirsty and our skin burning, and the only thing we wanted was water."
"So, we left for the river during the daytime and waited along the forest's edge. I saw those Metal Demons for the first time; they were smelly, dirty, and noisy; it scared me. I closed my eyes; my mother tucked me along, and when the great mother gave a signal, we came down.
Then there were humans everywhere. Some stopped to look at us, some waited, and some ran. And then something happened.
Someone threw a stone and made noise; all we wanted was to get away to the river, and then somebody with a stick came close to me. My Mom got angry. She chased him then someone threw something. It burned her. She shrieked, and the great mother ran towards the humans to scare them but…"
"What happened?" asked Kalia
"More sound, more stones, more fire, and the herd dispersed."
"My Mom... I couldn't see her. I got stranded on the other side of the black path. I felt scared, so I hid. I could hear her calling me."
"And then some humans came. We have seen them in the forests moving here and there. Great Mother tells us they protect the forest and mean good, but at that moment they had something like a big stick which made a lot of noise and scared me. I hid inside the bush, closed my eyes and just stayed there. I knew Mom would find me."
"But then I fell asleep, and when I woke up, I knew I was lost. I wanted to go home to my herd and be with Mama."
"But the noises, that honking and smell it scared me, and then all I knew was that I wanted to get away as far away from the scary noises, so I ran, and I ran. I cried, thinking I would find my family, but no one was there."
"I thought maybe if I could reach the river, I could meet my herd there. But the river was nowhere, a small patch of trees than more humans. I didn't know where to go."
It had started raining heavily now; it worried the crow; he knew the ditch where the baby Elephant fell might fill with water. He looked here there, hoping. He was impressed with this brave little guy and decided to stay for the time being till the rain stopped.
"Okay, so you are from the south side of the forest. How did you land up here on the Northside? A whole city is in between!"
" I started searching for the river again, but then I heard something just as I was about to reach the river. It was the sound of a dog. I knew it from the forest, but here it was, louder. Suddenly I was surrounded, and they were shouting and barking, and I had no idea why were they doing that? One of them even got hold of my tail. I kicked him, and he whimpered away, but they were too many, so I panicked and ran again. They started chasing me, and then suddenly they stopped ".
"I thought I ran fast, but apparently, they stopped because of Raja."
"Err, okay. You see he is huge, Tusks so big that they reach the ground even the humans don't interfere with him. He is so big."
"Child, where is your herd?" Raja asked.
"I have lost them."
"This is not the place to stay, Kiddo. Come with me."
Even Kalia knew this Elephant; He was a legend in the area. He is often seen moving from one patch of the forest to another. He had learnt to avoid humans and sometimes even forage around the Dhabas and restaurants around the forest. The forest is divided into two parts separated by the river, but then a city came along, and its size increased and is ever-increasing. The size of forests reduced. The animals now had a lesser area, and their path from one part of the forest to another also got blocked. The only way to go was through the river and a small patch of trees. Elephants use this small area to go from this part of the forest to another, and they move only at night. If they move during the day, people like flies hover over them, some jump to take photos, some shout, some throw stones. It irritates them; so they want to avoid it; on the way, there are some rice fields, and they like to raid them, but they are also wary of humans. Still, a few risks here and there results in a confrontation; sometimes houses and walls are broken by some over-enthusiastic elephants, resulting in sticks, stones and sometimes even firecrackers are thrown at them.
So, in the middle of the night, Chintu and Raja crossed the bridge. The other side was a bit different, with more trees, lesser grassland and even a railway line going through the core region. Chintu was still sad, trying to make out where his family was and still missing his mom, so he stuck with Raja. It was a rare sight of a big male elephant caring for a small elephant; photographers came all along the way to see this odd phenomenon. Chintu liked them. The noise of the camera shutter made him feel good, and he ran here and there, throwing some mud on his stick inside Raja, and Raja would shoo him away, and he would hear more such clicks.
"Hey Kiddo, what happened then ", The crow inquired, Chintu seemed to be lost in some thought.
" It was good with Raja.At times I heard a tiger lurching around the corner waiting for me, but with Raja around, no one dared; I felt protected with him."
“Raja used to say, The tiger doesn't matter, Kiddo, it's the humans."
"I asked him, why do you say so? I have seen them running away when you are close to them."
" Hmm, just notice my tusks whenever I am around a human, you will understand".
" So, the next time I was near him, I saw it; although he can't fully do it, he tries to hide his tusks whenever he sees the humans; he said men like these tusks the bigger it is, more it attracts them. His father was killed just because of it. So, he tries to hide them whenever humans are around."
It had started raining heavily, and the ditch was filling very rapidly. Kalia knew he had to keep this Elephant distracted so that he might not panic.
" Humans are such a strange creature, but I like this creature because their dump has so much more than Jungle could ever give me." said the crow
Chintu, looked at him with dismay. " I don't know about you, but I love my forest. But you are right. The humans are strange."
And then suddenly Chintu shivered ,water was now uptill his neck and was rapidly rising; he remembered something, that loud noise, him running and a big thud noise. He shivered again.
"What happened, Chintu? Why so scared?"
"Yesterday, the Jungle was quiet, tranquil something felt off; Raja had brought me to an area of the forest away from the Tracks that Humans built, on which that huge Gaint Monster runs. I don't even know what it is…"
"Train, again, love it too much, on the tracks all sort of delicious stuff."
Chintu was now panicking. " The water is rising, Kalia. I am scared; help me! Can't you call someone?"
" Where can I fly in this rain?"
"Help someone, someone", the Elephant sobbed.
"Only if Raja were here, he would take me out with his big trunk. You know, there we saw a few humans lurking in the corner, someone with a strange-looking stick pointed at Raja, and then I heard a blast, and we both ran. I crossed those tracks, and then the train or that monster came, and I heard a thud."
" I was so scared I ran and ran, and fell in this ditch."
"I am drowning, Kalia!!!! Please, please find Raja for me? I will climb on his tusks and come out. I miss him; He will take me out."
The Crow knew. He knew what had happened. But he also had a stomach to fill. He flew away with tears in his eyes. But before that, he shrieked at his loudest caw- caw and kraa - kraa so that maybe someone might come here.
The following article got published in the corner of the newspaper the next day "Tragedy has struck the National Park. A few days ago, the sensation Male elephant lately seen with a baby elephant was found dead on the railway tracks.; The forest department found the baby elephant in the nearby ditch filled with water and, after a lot of trouble, saved him, and he is now with the vet. They will try to reunite him with his herd.
The question on everyone's mind is whats the fault of this poor animal? Only if the train could be slow? Or only if the animals had more area to move? Can't we give them some space?
A famous person once said, "It's not whether animals will survive, it's whether man has the will to save them."