I blinked a fly off my drooping eyelids as I waded across the water stream to meet the young ones, who seemed satisfied getting themselves soaked in mud and dirt right as the day begun. Their clear, pastel grey skin had patches of shades of brown. I stopped right in the middle of the gushing water, loaded my snout with the brown water of the stream, and sprayed the mischievous calves. They were taken by shock, then delight, and danced under the shower till it lasted. I repeatedly sprayed them with water until the muddy patches disappeared completely. They frolicked around me as if to say thanks, and would have spoken to me if I hadn’t kept to myself. I found myself to be very quiet around other elephants, and while my mother believed in letting the world know what you have in your heart, I was happier lost in the haven of my own thoughts.
The calves ran off to the brown grasslands where our clan resided. Mother often told me how we were the blessed ones, here in South Africa, and how she’s heard tales of slaughter from my grandparents in many other lands. I haven’t witnessed man to be ferocious during childhood and as a young adult, I dismissed her tales, often laughing them off with an inside joke. If anything, these frail, intricate creatures harmed my ears with the noise they make with their jeeps during their little ‘expeditions’.
I continued crossing the stream. Just as I stepped foot on land, I saw a jet of water erupt from behind a mound of earth. It faced away from me. I decided to inspect the mound on my own even though it would be a long walk for me. The chitter-chatter back in the clan was getting on my nerves anyway.
I made my way through dried up shrubs and brown grasses. I soon realized that my perception had betrayed me and the walk crossed our territorial boundaries. I was all alone, it was the start of the day, and there was nothing else to do. I haven’t ever broken a rule before, but there’s a first for everything, and I was looking forward to some mischief myself. I walked towards the mound and saw that the gush of water from before was actually a hot spring eruption. The water was so pure and clear! It had already accumulated into a baby pond. I glanced over the water and caught a reflection of myself, something I hadn’t been able to do ever since the population of our clan grew and the waters became muddy. I had changed so much over these years. My tusks were pearly white, and my once pastel grey skin had a darker shade to it. My eyes sparkled, and so did the water.
That’s when I heard a jeep approaching the mound from the side. I turned my head to face the visitors. Most of them don’t come close, and of the small percentage that do are very gentle and loving. They have weird-looking cameras, this bunch. Long, slender, with tubes…?
My thoughts were cut off by the bang a camera made. What pathetic noises these men come up with! I turned around and started walking back to the clan because I was certain they’ve alerted everyone back there, and I was going to get in trouble for being off boundary now. To my surprise, I saw my mother leading some of the members of the clan, headed towards me. That’s when the lores hit me, and I began stomping my way through the brown shrubs.
Without wasting any time, the men decided to arm themselves with a spear-throwing device and projected the spear to cause me harm for whatever reasons they considered important. The spear barely missed my tusk. I wish it hadn’t, because now my airways were bloody. They had made a huge, gaping hole in my snout, and I returned home with a rasping breath, showering blood through the part of me that showered water for the young ones to dance underneath.
It didn’t take too long before my snout was infected with all kinds of bacteria and pests. By the end of the week, I found myself unable to swallow the softest fruit due to the congestion that had traveled down my throat. I had to spend many painful days lying down as my body and senses became numb. I was unable to utter a single word. That wasn’t the bad part about dying, however. Mother knew I never really liked telling other elephants what I had in my heart, and mostly resided in the haven of my own thoughts.