Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Shelephant's Gaze

There is this elephant. Nobody actually knows where she came from (for that matter, no one even knows the gender, on account of a mischievous creator!). But that aside, there she stands; serenity, grace, strength and a stare of just compassion on her face that looks out non-judgmental-  filled with acceptance, and at times, bewilderedness and amusement. Its the very place where I first saw a man on a cycle get trapped by a truck going downhill. The unfortunate cyclist rode too close to the left flank of the speeding truck and in a matter of seconds, his life was crushed as the truck veered left and the man disappeared. People shouted. The summer air filled with searing screams of horror and disbelief. The trucker pulled over. I ran towards the ensuing melee. It was too little too late. All that was left was a bloodied body. The cycle was crushed and crunched. The man was plain bludgeoned. Blood drained the asphalt, draining still and leaving a trail of ghastly sight. Where was he going? What did his family do? Was he married? Did he have kids? Was he working in the Bhutanese town of Phuentsholing? Was he looking forward to something-? An evening out with friends perhaps? A movie (those days movies were a big draw in that town and really, the town was a movie-buff's kind of place- very cinematic! Mig and Norgay being household names. Today its a humdrum affair).

I think of that cyclist quite often. I guess when you are nine or eleven you think of dead people and become terrified of ghosts. I thought I'd get haunted by what I'd seen. Those days we'd sit and watch Fire-Demons moving about the silhouetted mountains above the tropical plains. You tend to take those sights seriously, in what was a town and time of naive innocence. The elephant, she saw it too. I've been tempted, but never tempted enough to find out if she was indeed a female. Or if she had a name, and even the curiosity to find out who brought her here and other whereabouts. The few odd moments where I did pop the question all I got was blanks! Nobody seemed to know. And I pursued the matter of the elephant's being or its gender no more. It was fine by me and sort of beautiful that nobody knew nothing about it. Sometimes you do not ask or press too much for answers or stories as you are likely to receive metaphors. And metaphors really do not take you anywhere save the confounding confusion. And why is it that I preferred her a female as I do with my inanimate objects is beyond me! I call my car Betsy- perhaps its the spill-over from the Caring-Mum Syndrome men tend to hang onto. But really, who knows or cares when it comes naturally and to top it, there's a feel-good vibe hovering like a halo?

Added to that was this cyclist. Who knew him? No one I know did. It was the same thing as watching hundreds of thousands of people that are reportedly dying or are cold dead in the news circuit we now live in. We are becoming immune to other people's deaths. The faces of the dead we do not know is just mere news and nothing more. Just as poverty and tragedy besetting folks in strange lands are also news that top the hour and leave us immobile. We are slowly but surely becoming apathetic to suffering that is not our own. Along with that, we are also becoming OPM addicts; as in addiction to Other People's Money. Money really does make the world go round and round. Whether its our swollen heads spinning with self-aggrandizement or the Planet itself revving up its rotations and revolutions around the sun is another cup of coffee.
But everything is in a spin and we are all in the whirlpool not knowing that the drown is imminent.

But where are we going with this story of the cyclist and the elephant? The cyclist is gone, and perhaps I could have or already did bump into his reincarnation too- who knows! The world is a complicated place and I did live in the land of windmills, canals, clogs and bicycles. Who knows if this cyclist that I saw alive for a moment before he died could not have been reborn in such a country where everyone has a cycle and good lanes to go with them, including red, yellow and green traffic lights. The idea being life goes on and if your attachments to certain material things are strong; so strong that trying to wrestle that away from your hands is a nigh impossible task; so attached that even the Lord of the Underworld himself could not detach it from your grasp, you're, well, attached as a useless appendage. And if you want something real bad, there's a bond of attachment so strong it does not let go, not even in the after life. How you come back to the same circumstance is in a way, the same manner in which you go back to your bad habits. Forceful bad habits that are hard to let go off. I'm a smoker. I've this weary feeling that I'll be smoking whether I be in Heaven, Hell or the Bardo (most likely there!) and that I'll be able to buy it off the same people who sell it to me. Nothing changes because your mindset creates its own world. And like-minded people will keep bumping into each other because they all haunt the same jaunts and crave the same desires.

So it looks like we are in the majority! Is it any surprise then when you find yourself complaining about the same shit albeit from as many angles as is possible? The elephant is another subject. She has been standing in that corner, thankfully under a shade, for as long as I've been around. That's a hair's breath away from forty! But they live long, don't they? And they are renowned for their long memories; those elephantine memories. If she were to sit on her nice rear one fine day and decide to speak up, the world's media would assemble faster then you could say "Her Eek Friend, Zaroere Hota Hai" and be asking her these hieroglyphical {<>*&^^%$><>:"}questions they don't understand and answers they're really not interested in. Its probably what keeps her mum, and its also the reason why I adore her. Today people don't even seem to notice her; lost as they are in the pursuit of that pot of gold and happiness and this thing called Bloblolization. But that's their loss and not her's for she stands splendid, observing and absorbing everything around her. She's been witness to and still holds the privy eye to whatever happens to the Entrance into the Kingdom of Bhutan, or in the least, the Gateway to the Thundering Dragon Kingdom.

I've stopped making queries as to her mysterious inception.
I wouldn't want to know anyway. It would derail the podium on which I've placed her. Most things in life are plain mysterious. I do not wanna know everything because there is really nothing to know! If you know why the moon shines and waxes and wanes that's terrific but the lack of that knowledge does not make the billions who see the same moon any less beautiful. The moon is beautiful when she is a crescent, or when she becomes a perfect "D" and when she becomes glorious in a perfect luminous circle of Full Bloom like the 'O'.
And I like her when she goes through the (Crescent ) Phase.

As if to cement that point of mystification and recreation, I was walking over to the local garage to check up on my hospitalized Betsy- the mean and green machine as she's been dubbed in her present avatar. I get to the garage. Talk to the mechanic and get some vital parts to replace her organs. Plastic surgery is also on the cards. She needs to be beatified beautifully, so we arrange to have her old ass replaced together with heels and her eyelashes refurbished. Deal done, I walk back and bang!
There I spy something! I cannot believe it! Its another elephant! From my vantage point all I see is his beautifully sculpted ass. He is a small lad, still growing. Its a "He" - (since we already have 'Her', I thought calling it a 'He' would be a nice au pair! (Or maybe that was me playing a vague romantic hoping to play matchmaker perhaps?). Not may kids come to see Her or Him. Its okay. Lifestyles change and so have the people; though more accurately "Times don't change; People Do" as my mum is want to say.

When I was growing up in that exciting border-less town, I used to walk down to the 'Shelephant' almost everyday to just watch, gaze and see her magnificence. Some three and half a decades later, I'm still doing that. And now I get to see another! Beauty, as they say, is truly in the eyes of the beholder, as does the world and how it looks, seems and feels.

Ps: If you're ever down in Phuentsholing and wanna take a look, the Shelephant stands beautiful in a little fenced-in circle of garden of sorts in front of the BOD (Bhutan Oil Distributors). The other newly arrived 'He-Lad' stands in the Workshop Lane downtown in another BOD! (Something with Oil and Elephants! Perhaps a subconscious salute to the fact that it was a Working Elephant that discovered oil in the Indian State of Assam that borders Bhutan when it came back one day legs soaked in crude oil.)
The rest, as they say, is leftover.
Until the next musing, adios!

PS: YourLustForLifeStartsRightNow!

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