Friday, December 30, 2016

Singing Elephants (With A Cobra Thrown In!)

Dancing Elephant. Photo Courtesy:
After a long, mentally exhausting day working, I reach Anna's house just after 5pm. That's the normal time he wakes up after his early evening nap. He is still in bed but awake.

Me: Anna! You awake?!

Anna (Looking up at me with a bright face and big smile): Bandiya-amma? (Loosely translated from Kannada it means - "You have come").

Me (smiling back at him): Yes Anna.

Anna: When did you come from Salem?

Me (realizing he is thinking of someone else): I came from Delhi, Anna.

Singing Elephants (c) John Lund
Anna (still smiling): You missed the elephants singing.

Me (deciding to play along): Really? What were they singing?

Anna: They were singing so well! Melodious songs.

Me: Oh good! Where were they, Anna?

Anna (pointing to the roof and high up on the walls): Here in the room.

Me: That's nice.

Anna: They often come and sing for me.

Me: Really Anna? How often do they come and sing for you?

Anna: Every other day. Some days they come and some days they don't.

 Me: Anna, what do they sing?

Anna: Beautiful songs.
Photo Courtesy: Kurt Halsey

Me (by now I am also smiling): Anna, do they trumpet-sing or do they sing like us.

Anna: They sing like us. Beautiful songs. With music.

Me: That is so nice for you Anna.

Anna's eyes move away from me.

Anna (pointing to the corner of the ceiling diagonally opposite from him): Oh see! One of them is there looking at us.

Me (looking up to where he is pointing, looking for an elephant on the ceiling or wall): Yes Anna. Do you think he will sing again?

Anna: I don't know. He is just smiling at us. He is also happy.

Me: That's nice Anna. Pause. Do you want to get up and have coffee.

Anna: Yes.

At the sound of coffee, Anna perks up more - as if that is possible in his happy mood, caused by singing elephants in his room! We lift Anna off his bed and help him shuffle to the dining room.

Anna: I haven't seen the black king cobra for some time.

Me (confused with the move from elephants to cobras): What cobra Anna?

Anna: The one who comes and dances for us sometimes.

Me: Really Anna?

I look at Anna's attendant and housekeeper, confusion writ all over my face.  They nod.

Anna: Yes. Is it because it is raining?

Me: Anna, it is not raining.

Anna: I should ask the elephants why the cobra hasn't come.

Me: Yes Anna. Do that the next time they come to sing for you.

 Photo Courtesy:
Anna's coffee arrives. His bother has sent a big box of jaangiri, laddu and boondi for him and I open it to ask Anna what he wants to eat. Of course, he chooses the jaangiri! And eats it with glee. And forgets the elephants and cobra.

And I? I drink my coffee and feel completely relaxed.

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