Early Lessons in Humility and how to drop your Human Assumptions
The Happy pregnant lady
When we decided to meet the elephants in a sanctuary in Khao Lak, I spoke to the sanctuary and asked them if I would be able to speak to the elephants there. In particular, I wanted to reach out to any animal that was in distress. My human arrogance is so evident here. I did not realize it then.
When I got there, all my communication skills had evaporated as I was so excited. I just wanted play and feed the baby elephants.
There was one very happy, loving, naughty pregnant lady there. She stole all the fruits from my basket. And I kept asking her for a hug, saying I know you know what I am saying to you. Finally she relented, and let me touch her while she used her ear to beat the crap out of my head. I think that's what a human- elephant hug should be.
We moved on to the baby elephants.
As I walked up to a lone elephant in an enclosure, one of the care givers asked me to keep my distance from a large elephant as she was a recent rescue and not friendly. She was also injured with a broken leg.
I fed her from a distance, first throwing the food for her to pick up and then by hand. She didn't seem dangerous but not a cheerful sort.
I sat down outside her enclosure. And I told her that I had come to speak with her. I sat for the longest time, but I got nothing. I asked how old she was and she told me 10. Anyway, after about 10-15 mins I got up to go as I really was not able to get anything. While I was leaving I asked the caregiver how old she was. He told me she was 40. So again, I thought I just made up the number in my head. Obviously, this communication stuff was hard.
As I got into the car and we were driving through the forest, I felt disappointed as I didn't get anything from any of the elephants.
But then, the old elephant reached out to me, rather angry, and said what makes you think if want to talk to the one in distress and your wish will be granted. I apologized, I had been cut to size. She was right, why should she talk to me. As I was thinking all this in my head, I apologized. She them became more amenable to a chat. She told me that she lived with a human family and had an elephant daughter and sister. They had a decent life, and the mahout took good care of them. They were used for rides and tourism, but they could hang out in the jungles nearby and they ate well and a decent life. But she got injured and her mahout was old. He didn't want to send her away, but his children insisted and so here she was, away from her family. It was making her very sad, she was heartbroken, but she understood that the mahout was too old. She was fond of him and not the children. To feel her heart break was very hard. I felt like crying, as I felt the weight of the world and the loneliness that she was experiencing. This was hard to deal with for me as the feeling lingered on. I had no words that could help so I just kept quiet.
Begging the Pregnant Lady for a Hug
Just as my heart was full of sadness, the pregnant lady giggled and started chatting with me. She told me I was like a child and she was behaving like an indulgent mother giving me hug. She was sharing all her maternal feelings with me, as she was going to have her baby in the next month. Her cheer and happiness lifted my spirits a lot.
I hope these two become friends. I hope the baby brings hope and joy. And, a new family to ease the pain of losing her child and sister. If nothing else, the pregnant lady will cheer up an older elephant.