ANAMIKA

'(The Blog) With No Name', perhaps best described as a stream of notes and thoughts - 'remembered, recovered and (sometimes) invented'.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Amok!

On a hot day around noon, I was at 'Statue' on some work. Suddenly, there were loud shouts: "Elephant running wild! Take cover!" Pedestrians scattered in panic; I barged into a shop with several others and waited tensely.

Soon, there was a loud cling-cling and an elephant trotted past. No handler was in sight. Its heavy chains were loose and trailed behind. The beast had no tusk - "Oh, it's a 'pidi'!"

I watched the elephant pass 'Statue' and turn on to the railway station road; on a sudden impulse, I joined a dozen of so fellows running after it. A pidi is nowhere near as dangerous as an angry tusker, one reasoned.

The elephant trotted along towards East Fort. Traffic cops were frantically clearing the streets, people running for cover... Most chasers soon gave up; a handful of us bravely persisted but none was quite up to the pace. The elephant steadily gained on us and could be seen way ahead climbing the Railway overbridge when all on a sudden, she stopped, turned and started running right back. A few of us hurriedly withdrew into a galli and watched. I called home on the cell and warned them - "an elephant is running amok in town! ït's only a pidi but in a narrow galli she could be dangerous to run into. Just stay in! I shall keep you posted on her movements." The elephant lumbered past and went straight back up the road towards 'Statue'. Having recovered my breath, I gave chase again...

Cops were now following the beast in a jeep and there were more cops yelling at people to keep off the roads - as I took out my cell to make another call home, one of them swore at me: "Ïdiot, filming the drama! Put that damn thing away!"

The pidi went onto the 'Bypass' and was now headed away from the town with a largeish crowd watching from safe vantage points. I saw her abruptly turn into a compound. Soon news spread that she had been pacified and tethered without further fuss.

I headed home, utterly exhausted and majorly thrilled. For the rest of the day, conversations centered around my having seen an elephant run amok for the first time - and that too a pidi.

The next day, the local newspaper was full of the elephant run. 'One-tusked bull-elephant terrorizes Tripunithura!"

Golly, she was a he! I had just had a glimpse of the beast from the side with the missing tusk; then I was mostly running behind it; whatever, I had goofed! The taunts inevitably followed: "Pidi it seems!' ... "Can't recognize something as big as a tusker and tells everyone "pidi, pidi"!

But I had answers: "Hey, with elephants, just like some homo sapiens, you can't really make out the gender from behind!"

Then, someone asked: "But, why exactly did you chase the elephant?" I was stumped. An aunt helped out: Look, boys will always be boys!"

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Note 1: Basheer's loony little masterpiece 'Ánavariyum Ponkurishum' relates: The two heroes take up a contract to steal 'Parukkutti', a docile pidi. They carry out the operation on a new moon night and end up mistaking the dangerous tusker 'Kochuneelandan' for Parukkutti - with near disaastrous consequences.

Note 2: In Satyajit Ray's 'Jana Aranya', a Marwari businessman gets conned into buying a circus elephant and complains bitterly: "if this were a baby, I could put it on a plane and sell it abroad. But this brute is a grandfather; and just to feed it costs a fortune!". As far as *I* could make out, the 'grandfather' was a pidi!

Note 3: The title of this post, borrowed from an anti-apartheid film I saw long back, is inaccurate - the elephant did no violence at all. What made it run a full 4 kilometers on tarred roads under a blazing sun is a mystery. Such instances of elephantine delinquency are becoming worryingly frequent in Kerala.

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