Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Killer Elephant!

Three men were strolling merrily that night.
They had a good dinner & drink. One among them had got engaged & were walking back from that function.
Suddenly, out of the thick dark forest, emerged an elephant, onto the moon lit mud road catching them unaware.
It grabbed one with its trunk, flung him into the drain beside!
Elephant threw the other one up & as the body hit the ground, stepped on him, killing violently!
It heard the moaning of the one in drain & killed him too.
The third one ran & saved his life to tell the sorry tale.
An occasion of joy in the village had turned into mourning the next day.
The elephant had escaped from Circus.
It had lost one of the tusks to its antics. One day it killed the mahout & ran into the Malenadu forest.
Thus a terror was born in the neighboring villages!
Once in a while it would appear out of nowhere causing havoc, killing people, destroying houses & crops.
It had immense hatred for humans, must be due to the torture it underwent in circus days.
It disliked dogs and fire as well.
One day enraged by a barking dog, it entered a house in the village, taking the dislodged roof on its back to a distance!
It had killed around 10 people in the surroundings.
People in the villages started panicking.
And in the Malenadu village region the houses were a km apart.
There was only one mud road through village and if a vehicle passed by it was a sight/news.
Electricity or telephones were science fiction.
By night, lamps kept inside the house, dogs tied & doors closed, villagers lived in fear.
Rice being the main crop in those days, villages were full of paddy fields and few coconut trees, both prone to elephant attack.
Government finally woke up to the loss of lives & crop, to announce Rs 10,000 and a rifle as prize for killing the rogue elephant.
But in those days of license raj only two people in the village had licensed gun!
For few days, some government officers were roaming around in a jeep with guns but to no avail.
It was dusk when people came running to me, terrified by the elephant!
As they were explaining me how and where they saw the elephant, few others got hold of Padmayya, the other one who had a licensed gun in the village.
I had a Game King - 12 Bore Dbbl Gun.
The cartridges came with different number of lead shots (Single Ball, Double Balls, LG (9), SG, BB...and so on) with the total weight of the lead in a cartridge being same.
I loaded the cartridge with a single lead shot & had backup cartridges in pocket.
Padmayya's gun wouldn’t take a readymade cartridge, the chamber had to be filled with bullet, gunpowder and primer for each shot, entire process taking more than a minute for even the quickest to reload!
Quickly we were set.
Two people with guns, and another with a torch.
The elephant was located in the paddy field, a km away.
Loss of lives, crops & helplessness had enraged us.
Our strategy was to go to the nearest safe distance and fire simultaneously at the elephant.
We had to be careful, while walking through the narrow path through forest, with chances of facing snakes & other wild animals.
We hurried to the paddy field.
It was near full Moon. Standing at a height in a corner, we could clearly see the elephant, right in the center of the field.
It was a sight, a wild untamed elephant in all its glory!
The elephant was collecting a bunch with its trunk, hitting to its leg to get rid of mud from rice plants & eating merrily.
Even with a loaded gun, the sight of the ferocious killer elephant would send shivers down the spine of the bravest!
Luckily it didn't seem to notice us.
We took position.
After a moment, we passed the signal to each other silently.
I pulled the trigger & then Padmayya, 'click, bang' almost simultaneously!
In seconds, I reloaded the gun with a twin lead shot cartridge & shot again.
The sound of gunshots ripped through the silence of the village.
The elephant rose on its hind feet & let out a roar, echoing in the night!
And then it ran madly, with blood dripping.
It got into the nearby river, with boulders & water in the river splattering all over and disappeared into the forest.

It was only the following day we could locate the elephant.
Next day when the quarry workers, some distance away, went near riverside with thick bamboo cover, found the elephant lying in mud, which promptly got up to chase them!
It was there for three days.
And then it was not seen in the vicinity for quite some time.
- As narrated by my late grandfather around 15 years back & this is my recollection with inputs from those who had heard the story too.
- The elephant died, a while later, holding the electricity line with its trunk near NH 48.
- It was in the 1970s.
- And in the Malenadu village region the houses still are a km apart.