Kari, the elephant
– Dhan Gopal Mukherji
Kari the elephant was five months old when he was given to me to be taken care of. I was nine years old then. We grew together. That is probably why I never found out how tall he was. Kari needed forty pounds of twigs a day to chew and play with.
Everyday I used to take him into the river in the morning for his bath. He would ride on the sandbank while I rubbed him with the clean sands of the river for an hour. After that he would lie in the water. He would squeal with pleasure as I rubbed water down his back. Then I would take him by the ear because that is the easiest way to lead an elephant. Thus I left him in the fringe of the jungle, while I went into the forest to get some twigs for his food. It was not an easy job to get twigs and saplings for Kari.
One day I was gathering some twigs and I heard Kari calling me. I thought somebody was hurting him, so I came down from the tree and ran fast to the edge of the forest. I could not see Kari. When I went near the edge of the water I saw something black struggling on the surface. When it rose higher I saw it was Kari. I thought he was drowning! But I soon saw his back rise above the water and he began to struggle up to the shore. He then pushed me into the water and as I fell into the stream, I saw a boy lying flat at the bottom of the river. When I came to the surface of the water to take a breath, Kari was standing on the bank, his trunk stretched out like a hand waiting. I went down again and pulled the body of the drowning boy to the surface. Kari helped me to pull him onto the shore.
Suddenly I slipped and sank back to the bottom of the river. As I struggled up again with my eyes tightly shut, I felt something like a rope around my neck. This frightened me. I thought it was a water snake. But the trumpeting sound I heard, told me it was Kari. The boy lay stretched on the ground and I recognized him as a boy from my village. He had gone to bathe in the river and had swum too far out.
I put his face down on the sand and Kari put his trunk around his waist and lifted it gently up and down. After Kari did this three or four times, water began to come out of the boy’s mouth. I rubbed his hands and feet. The boy slowly started breathing again. Kari was the best friend I ever had.