The Abandoned Deity by Preethi Warrier

The Abandoned Deity
by
Preethi Warrier

Volume 1, Issue 3

After what seemed like an eternity, he was forcefully pulled out of the pit and made to walk unceremoniously, pushed and pulled, amidst a sea of pesky humans.

The intolerable clamour woke him up with a start and he squinted into the bright sunlight, unable to comprehend the source of all the mayhem. The last thing he recalled was being chased by them, with fire torches. He was the herd’s leader, and they were escaping into the wild, when suddenly everything went blur and all he felt was pain.

His mind clear now, he looked around and realized he was in a pit. The humans were creating a ruckus up there. He tried standing up, but the pain in his legs was excruciating. He trumpeted aloud, which seemed to make the humans back off a little, only to return with amplified noises.

Too exhausted to stand, he was about to kneel, when he felt a strong push from behind. He tried turning around and managed to catch a glimpse of another elephant, but soon there was a noose around his trunk and a tusker was pulling him with all its might. He tried his best to resist, but the push from behind was stronger.

After what seemed like an eternity, he was forcefully pulled out of the pit and made to walk unceremoniously, pushed and pulled, amidst a sea of pesky humans. His wound was deep and the pain was agonizing. He tried to roar, but his voice went feeble and he let go. He silently followed the other elephant till they reached a clearing at the end of the forest.

It was dusk now, and the humans, worn out and bored, dispersed and went their way. Unable to stand any longer, he kneeled down. They tied his legs tightly to a tree and as night fell, everybody left, with just the tusker who had pulled him, in charge. His mahout fed him some coconuts and treated himself to some toddy. Soon the man was snoring.

Psst...” he whispered to the tusker. “Why have they tied me up? I am hungry, I am in great pain and my friends are all out there. I need to go.”

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I have a name, it’s Ganeshan by the way,” the tusker replied, snootily. “Ganeshan, the Elephant God. And look at you, wild and unsophisticated. Spoiling our reputation, attacking their fields, stealing food, destroying crops...good they got you, you will start training from tomorrow.”

But it wasn’t like that earlier. They weren’t there. That was our river, we bathed there, grazed there. And one fine day, they burned the trees, cut the grass and built their huts. The next time we visited, they chased us away with drums, pelted us with rocks. But our kids yearned for the fresh grass and the bananas, so we promised to take them at night, without bothering the humans.”

Cut it out,” yawned Ganeshan. “You harmed them, so they captured you. They mean no harm. They will simply make you more disciplined and domesticated. You won’t be a wild beast anymore.”

He couldn’t sleep though. “Ganeshan, so you were also pulled out of a pit like me?”

Ganeshan replied haughtily, “Of course not. I was born in a huge estate, it belonged to some rich humans. I was gifted to the most popular temple here. I used to be the temple’s pride, they paraded the temple deity on my back.”

Parade? Was it fun?” he quizzed.

It wasn’t for fun silly. I had a huge responsibility up my back. Festival seasons meant being paraded in many temples, from dawn to dusk, travelling in trucks or walking long distances...” Ganeshan trailed off.

He was taken aback, “So when do you chill, play with your friends, fling mud on them, shake braches, and shower your mate with flowers? You seem to work all the time.”

Ganeshan looked away. He never really had any good friends or family. He had faint memories of his mother, but he had been gifted to the temple when he was very young. He had been separated from her since then, and from the time he could remember, everyone else was a competitor. Their height, their trunks and tusks were measured regularly. They were always pitted against each other, and made to run in races, all for some coveted titles. Winning these meant more processions, hot sun, harsh mahouts, and people everywhere. The jungle beckoned him often, with its soft grass and tall trees. He longed to stay back in the forest every time he carried loads of tourists on his back, with a mahout pricking him with a rod.

Do you still reside in the temple?” This query brought Ganeshan back from his wandering thoughts.

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Not anymore. I was sent here, to the national park, when I ran amok during the Thrissur Pooram. It was a huge procession; I was all decked up with a mob of millions around me. There was music, drums and fireworks. I don’t know what came over me, my head was pounding, there was a sharp pain in my teeth, and I couldn’t take it any longer...”

He touched Ganeshan’s trunk with his, “There there, it’s alright. Wasn’t your fault. I hate their sounds, their drums, even their presence for a short while, and you were tolerating them for hours.”

He touched Ganeshan’s trunk with his, “There there, it’s alright. Wasn’t your fault. I hate their sounds, their drums, even their presence for a short while, and you were tolerating them for hours.”

It’s not okay!” Ganeshan thundered. “It’s bad. I was in musth. I broke my chains, ran crazily amongst a huge crowd, destroyed everything and trampled two humans...” Ganeshan tried to hide his tears. “Post the incident, I was starved, kept in isolation and beaten. I couldn’t be a temple elephant anymore, for I had killed. They said I deserved the punishment.”

He was taken aback, “All of us get into musth, don’t they know that? We just have to be left alone then. I generally wander around by myself in the forest when I know it’s come. How dare they punish you? Aren’t you the Elephant God, how could they possibly torment a deity?”

If only Ganeshan could tell him that it wasn’t the first or the last time he had endured their brutality. And all this while he had thought it was for his good.

How Ganeshan loathed them now, for snatching his freedom, for their blatant lies, for making him believe that starvation and caning reduced the period of musth !

Ouch,” he groaned. “Looks like my leg is badly hurt from last night’s fall. And then, all these chains... From what you said, my life sentence starts tomorrow.”

Ganeshan inspected his new friend’s wound, and then looked at his own. The numerous wounds afflicted by the chains and the canes had only got deeper, but had never healed. His torso bore imprints of the torture, his back ached from the ropes and the load. His worst nightmare was his friend Arjunan’s last journey. The once majestic Arjunan lay immobile for months, suffering from a kidney ailment with sores all over, and eventually passed away in hunger and neglect.

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Ganeshan rose. Dawn was breaking, and the drunk mahout could wake up anytime.

Get up. Pull hard at those chains,” commanded Ganeshan. Together they broke his iron chains and the wild elephant stood free.

Run off now, as fast as you can. Lead your herd deep inside the forest and never ever return.”

Aren’t you coming?” he probed, confused.

No, I can’t,” Ganeshan replied. “They will hunt us both down. Just go. Stay blessed, stay wild.”

Ganeshan watched him flee, breaking away from the shackles of pain. Ganeshan knew some cruel punishment was in store for him, but he didn’t care. He had let one of his own return to where he rightfully belonged.

Ganeshan felt at peace now. He had always carried a deity, but today, he felt like one.

About the Author:

Preethi Warrier has completed her Masters in Electronics Engineering and is working as Assistant Professor at Shah and Anchor Kutchhi Engineering College in Mumbai. She is a regular blogger with Momspresso and Women's Web. Her stories and poems have been published in Induswomanwriting magazine, and she has contributed to anthologies like Born Too Soon, Singing Words, She - The Warrior, and Unknown Destinations. She is one of the winners of ISOBST-17 organised by Swadhya Publications. Warrier is also among the winners of the TOI Write India Campaign Season-1. She resides in Mumbai with her husband and son. She also writes film reviews and travelogues.

Tel: +91 9860269888

Email: warrier.preethi@yahoo.com

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