Elephantine memories!

My maternal grandfather was terribly mischievous. He created and got into a lot of serious trouble throughout his life.Once my grandfather coated the insides of a coconut with a whole lot of ‘chunnambhu’ or ‘chuna’ (I think it is called lime cement in English, the kind used in our ‘paan’), fed it to an elephant and ran away. (Tame elephants are not uncommon in the village streets of rural south India. They are generally used in temples on religious occasions.)Now elephants have long memories, especially for faces, and they live long lives too, almost 50-60 years. I am not sure how the elephant reacted that day, but the net effect was that my grandfather hid from all elephants, any elephant, for the rest of his life. I think the elephant was the only living thing that man was afraid of. He died at the age of 88 many years back, but he was always proud of what he had done and narrated the story with great relish. The rest of his kith and kin in the village at the time were never ever scared of elephants, nor were his children. Nor are his grandchildren and great grandchildren now. Who knows, probably the elephant would have killed my grandfather if it had seen him again, but the rest of the family had no reason to be scared. We knew that the elephant, for all its memory and long life, would not visit the sins of my grandfather on his descendants and seek revenge and retribution for his misdeeds from them. Elephants not only live long lives and have long memories, but they have also been blessed with a whole lot of common sense.

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