A Tangle with Death

February 22, 2017

If someone were to tell me my death would be caused by an elephant, I wouldn’t have believed them. But soon I learned elephants are unpredictable, tameless creatures that can turn on you at any second. I know that sounds peculiar but I never suspected an elephant could be so aggressive towards me, a vulnerable, scared ten year old. 

It was winter break and yours truly was an easily bewildered, yet adventurous young boy.  My family was on vacation and it was my first time visiting India.  The plane ride was horrendously long.  Once we arrived at the Delhi airport, my first impression was how scorching hot it was. My sisters and I complained about the heat constantly!  All the cars and taxis lacked basic air conditioning, so we were sweltering!  We tried to escape the heat by falling into the world of Mario Kart on our Nintendo DSs.  After much suffering we finally made it to my grandpa’s hometown at the southern tip of India, a city called Kerala. My grandparents had been eager to take us to see the elephants.

A lot of emotions were going through my head.  At first I was really excited because I had never seen an elephant before.  After we started walking around I remember my stomach filling with butterflies.  We cautiously stepped into a big sandpit where an elephant was standing.  I noticed that there were no ropes tied to the elephant, so he was free to roam around. Elephants have a reputation for being soft, gentle creatures so this didn’t strike me as unusual, even though my intuition said differently.  We were taught how to bathe the elephant with a hose and spray the water all of their bodies.  The elephants smiled wide almost human-like, and we could tell he was enjoying it.  My sisters and I took turns spraying the elephant and my pre-existing worries faded.

I then decided that I wanted to ride the elephant.  I climbed carefully onto the elephant's back and immediately noticed his rough skin on my hands.  I was uneasy at first, as every slight movement the elephant made was magnified by 100.  But after I got the hang of it, I started to feel more secure, and he walked me around the sandpit.  It was almost like the elephant could feel me getting more comfortable.  I could feel him relax too.  This elephant was a jokester also, and was smart enough to realize he was in front of a crowd.  He swooped his trunk into the air and blasted me in the face with water.  I was shell shocked by the force of the spray that pelted me.  I smiled even though I was worried.

After a while and everyone got a turn riding him we all stood by to take a group family picture.  We were all drenched head to toe but none of us even noticed.  Just then a stray brown cat sporadically ran into my view behind the man taking our photo.  For some reason, this sudden quick motion set the elephant off in a panic.  The elephant started stomping hard on the ground, and swung his trunk around like a vicious whip used by a cowboy.  Unfortunately, I was too close to the fire.  The elephant’s trunk connected with my chest, sending me THUD! straight into the ground. The keeper tried to contain him but was unable to. The elephant wrapped its trunk around my leg.  I was pulling to get my leg loose but his grip was too tight.  The elephant picked me up into the air, and finally dropped me back onto the sand flat on my face.  I struggled to get up and run away.  All my recent premonitions came streaming back.  I didn’t stop bawling until we made it home.

I was shaken for the rest of the trip. Things happen so fast sometimes, but in the end I’m happy I survived. I’ve been scared of elephants since that moment, and this awful memory haunts me every time I go back.  At least next time I’ll know better than to trust an elephant!

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