King Elephant


The elephant of our village temple
Passed away the other day
We drowned in sorrow
It was a dark day
Every eye was deluged
Every heart painfully bled

He was a pet of all
Kids loved him most
Stood holding his trunk
Posing for photographs
He had all the auspicious marks
To make him a cynosure of eyes

Other animals like dogs and cows
Took him in confidence
Moved close to him
Without fear
He spoke love
Spontaneous natural
He was a marvel
Though he was animal

He always held
The central position
In festive processions
His head always held high
Like a peak in a mountain range

The idols of deities
Always liked
His mammoth gait
Animal might and height
As he strode
Carrying them on his back
Bell below his neck ringing
Hilly temple raised
Against the brilliant sky
During their auspicious go-arounds
Every morning and evening

He was named
The King Of Kings
Rightly so he was a king
Of unsurpassed excellence, supreme
The land wept his death
For it loved him so much
From the bottom of the heart

Posters came up at every corner
Of the town and around
Paying tributes
To his divine attributes
There was spontaneous grief
All eyes bore testimony
As they welled
In profuse wetness
Like overflowing ponds
In monsoon rains

How is it that an animal’s death
Goes so touchingly lachrymose
In so much pain and longing?
What is it in the Indian psyche
That strikes such tearful empathy
With nature and her siblings?

When everything sacred
Brother, sister, mother and father
Are raped and trespassed
Humiliated, tortured
Trampled in wanton disregard
Of basic human values?

When everything living
That can’t speak
Is slaughtered every second
To satisfy
The gluttonous craving
Of insatiable palates?

Isn’t there a mammoth
Of goodness lying
In our psyche –
A giant that waits
For our call to be aroused
Dormant like a mountain
Slumbering in darkness?

Oh, sleeping tusker
Gigantic soul of godliness!
Leave your sleep and rise
Make us cry
Again and again
To wash our sins
We, the Indians
Are awaiting here
Steeped in chaotic decadence
The arrival of a savior
To lead us ahead

We will caparison you in gold
March with you
In colorful procession
With drum-beats, fireworks
Pipe-music playing celestial tunes
To the shrine of our beloved Goddess
The temple of Mother India
Ancient and eternal
As old as our godly Ganges

Awake, open your eyes, King!
Raise your trunk and trumpet
To the world around –
The Indians are coming
The long-lost, long-suppressed
Indians are coming again
To unshackle their Mother
Like they did more than
Six decades before

To usher in a new age
Of universal love and peace
On an ancient land
Where every mother
Sister and brother
Child and the aged
Lives fearless
With head held high
Like your upheld forehead
Of honor and might

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