THE REDUNDANT MAHOUT


In the balmy, barmy days before conservation,

our local zoo had an Indian elephant

which gave rides, complete with howdah

and mahout. He had been recruited

from Kerala and he and has family

settled, as Commonwealth citizens,

in a small, suburban semi within sound

of imitation jungles and savannahs.

 

In time, the circus animals deserted

or were abandoned, and, as the

euphemism has it, ‘he lost his job’,

becoming a porter at the train station

(when there were such posts) –

‘Jaldi, jaldi, haathi!’ was replaced by

‘Porter, porter, sir?’ I recall him

dour in his British Rail uniform –

and, appropriately moustached,

grinning astride the elephant’s neck.

 

 

 

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  1. #1 by Steve Crewe - September 1st, 2013 at 03:53

    Thanks for the monthly dose of sanity, David. I particularly liked The Lone Frog, which struck a chord.

  2. #2 by John Huddart - September 2nd, 2013 at 22:34

    A great title. If one had that title as a weapon in one’s arsenal, one would spend a lifetime loading poetry into its magazine!

    And you have – a lifetime of Britishness – so there is the evocation of Empire, and end of empire, and the end of that dream that the sun would never set. And of course it does, and Kerala gives way to work on the railways, and the marvelous elephants desert [as, a poem reminds us, they do in circuses] and being British, or Indian, gives way to a grin, and being just someone in the UK, and a memory to serve.

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