" " Words and Images: Eddie the Elephant


Eddie the Elephant

Monday, 30 April 2012

Eddie the Elephant lived a long time ago. Yet he could have been like any other living Elephant sharing  his same shameful fate.

Not long after Eddie was born, he was out in the woods learning to be an elephant.
"Push!" his mother was egging him on.
Eddie strained his whole body, till tears were squeezed out of his shut eyes, but the tree would not budge.
"He will be a mighty bull," his father thought, scooping another branch of leaves into his mouth with his trunk, pretending not to see his sons efforts.
"Come on Eddy, push!" his mother encouraged.
Eddy relented, rocking his weight back onto his hind legs, but just for a moment though. Putting all his might into the next movement, Eddy catapulted himself forward. With a mighty thud he crashed into the tree. All the leaves on the tree waved violently but even though Eddy still pushed against the tree with all his strength it would not budge. Little did Eddy know though that in the next moment his life would change forever.

The world erupted into a series of big bangs.
"Run Eddy!" he heard his mom shout at him above the noise.
But before he was even five steps into his run, he felt a searing pain in his hind quarters.
A couple of steps later, the bangs began to become ethereally distant and the trees looked even fuzzier than before. The last thing Eddy saw out of the corner of his eye was his mom dropping to the ground in a big heap.

Startled, Eddy woke. The first thing that came to his mind was his mom collapsing. Eddy frantically looked around. His mom was no where to be seen. Nor his dad. In fact Eddy didn't recognize anything about his surroundings. Eddy was all alone in a big circle of dirt. A large steel stake rose up out of the ground, a monument to the loneliness of that moment. A fence ran along the edge of the circle of dust and beyond the fence row after row of seats climbed up into the sky until a canvass heaven put a stop to their rise.

"Mom!" Eddy heard himself scream, his heart now pounding with angst. Eddy got up and began to run but a few steps later he was down in the dirt again. In no time Eddy was up again and on the run. But just as soon he was yanked back to the ground. That's when Eddy noticed the rope tied from his leg to the steel stake. Furious, Eddy got to his feet and with all the power he could muster, ran at the stake. Colliding into it, Eddy had supposed that he would knock it out of the ground. It was nothing in size compared to the trees he had knocked over before, nor anything compared to the trees he had lately been training to push over. To his surprise though it didn't even budge. Eddy tried again, and again. He ran into the stake from all different angles and pushed against it with all his might until he collapsed to the ground in a heap. Day after day, Eddy tried in vain to break free. Until one day he knew he would never be free from the stake. Tired, hungry and thirsty he sat down with a finality, Eddy resigned himself to the fact that he would always be tied to the rope and the stake.

 A while later some men came around and replaced the steel stake with a wooden stake. But Eddy knew he wouldn't be able to break free from the rope and the stake so he didn't even bother trying. As the days went by, a friendly man would come visit him. He would bring food and hose him down with cool water. He would speak softly to him and even rub him down, a great relief when he rubbed over itchy spots. Soon, memory of the life he had had in the woods began to fade. And although he didn't forget his parents, he forgot all that they were teaching him.

Many years later, Elly, because that's what they called Eddy now, was a big star in the circus. His master would speak and he would sit on his bum like a dog. The people who had come to watch him would laugh and clap. His master would speak again and he would stand up on three legs, his trunk extended and his whole body stiff as a rod, like a pointer dog in hunt. People would clap and clap. Elly enjoyed doing what he did. He knew the voice of his master, it was comforting to him. And he enjoyed the applause from the crowds. He was doing what he was meant to do. And sometimes, when a thought about going back to the woods and being a wild elephant again stole into his reality, Elly would immediately dismiss it as ridiculous. He was a circus elephant. Besides, he could never break free from the rope except when he was with his master.

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