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Kanaka Ghosalkar

Horror Tragedy Crime


4  

Kanaka Ghosalkar

Horror Tragedy Crime


Elephant in the water bowl

Elephant in the water bowl

10 mins 236 10 mins 236

“Yeah… That’s better…”, She would say with a sigh after having x-rayed through the content. It was so intimidating… 

Jess found it really intriguing to be working alongside Jules who was so intricate in her mannerisms… Sometimes she would have goosebumps while having a conversation but she never could place her finger as to why… 

 

They say sometimes animal instincts are correct… Have you ever experienced any? Something like goosebumps maybe… As humans, we all experience goosebumps in cold temperatures despite having relatively lesser body hair. For furry animals, this response is very important in keeping them warm. Recently it has been found that the muscle and the nerve cells involved in the ‘goosebump generation’ response to cold; also trigger hair growth by activating stem cells which is probably implicated in reversing hair loss and wound healing. 

Simply put… the stem cells are undifferentiated cells. Meaning, they are not assigned a definite function in our body and thus they can take any new function that they are attributed later, in adult life.

Amazing… isn’t it? How nice it would be if immature humans also had some such alternate ‘trigger’ switch that could compel them to behave righteously?

 

Previously, it was known that there are three types of cells that work together to create goosebumps… but the current collaborative research by scientists at Harvard and National Taiwan University sheds a new light in this area. The study demonstrates the significance of ‘norepinephrine’ in this process, which is in fact a neurotransmitter – a chemical that our nerve cells use to communicate with each other.

But why am I communicating this to you?

Well… I am a devotee of Lord Ganesha. But that has nothing to do with this story. Because, although mythology has its just standing in our culture, what I am to share has nothing to do with it. Or, maybe it does…

 

As the tale goes, Lord Ganesha was created by goddess Parvati and in a moment of anger Lord Shiva, his father severed his head. Later, lord Ganesha was given the head of an elephant and that is why he is referred to as ‘ekadant’ (The one with one tooth) or even ‘vakratund’ (The one with a huge twisted trunk).

Amongst all the animals I find elephants particularly amusing. Due to various reasons… one of them being… they are so huge… I’d love someday to try and hug an elephant… 

Amongst animals, I feel elephants are really lovable. And that is why one year back when the news came out about someone feeding a cracker-loaded pineapple to an elephant in Chennai which caused her death, I was filled with utter remorse. I mean what kind of whimsical, heinous act is that?

 

There is a friend of mine in Chennai. When I came across this news, I dialed him. Any which ways we hadn’t gotten in touch with each other for long. He is into corporate culinary. Basically, he supplies ‘home-made’ kind of food to the corporate offices in Chennai. It’s just incredible the way his team works. It’s beyond meticulous. 

Right from choosing the most authentic, home-produced ingredients; to, well… cooking the food to the right temperature such that it’s perfectly, ‘edible-warm’ by the time it reaches the customers, his passion can be seen in his eyes!

He was more than happy to catch up. And while otherwise, he would have spent a substantial time boasting about how well his business is doing, this time the conversation involved remorse about the restaurant business being affected due to covid. As far as his services were concerned, he said they had a 25% hit last year around the time when I had called. I wonder how things are now?

 

Sometimes it doesn’t matter if you haven’t spoken to people for years together. Some of them like this friend of mine have the ability to snap back. It’s as if the conversation can be restarted at the same plane of thoughts and feelings and understanding as it was left years before. 

I like such relationships. They don’t bother you or consume you. They don’t demand from you and most importantly they give you space to be yourself. I need too much of it for sure! 

It's interesting no… how with some people we can talk on a regular basis and with others not so much… and then…, there are layers to these conversations… I mean sometimes we need a common friend to mediate and sometimes we don’t… Sometimes the conversation is short-lived and at others, it just runs into hours… I find this diversity in conversations and the people we chose for the different kinds extremely fascinating!

 

A striking similarity to this is shown by the phenomenon of goosebump formation which is mediated by the communication of the sympathetic nerves with the hair follicle stem cells in the skin via norepinephrine. 

All this is achieved through a ‘synapse’, a junction at which two cells speak with each other, so to say. Interestingly, however, this is not a simple synaptic junction between nerve cells and the stem cells in the hair follicles, it is bridged through the muscle cells.

Just as you need someone to mediate the conversations between two people at times which I myself really hate... But still, it happens… I mean why do you need a third person. If you cannot speak your mind then are you even a grown-up? I mean I find it really ironic when people chose their priorities over you and find it unnerving when you treat them the same way. I mean wake up… we are in the twenty-first century. If you are going to throw thorns at people, don’t be stupid to expect roses… 

 

That said, there is a certain order to things in life, to nature, to things around us… and if we do not respect it, it isn’t going to respect us in return. Just like the triad of cells that operates seamlessly in a sequence to lead to goosebumps, and which, when messed with, is rendered dysfunctional. 

So, this triad (nerve cells, muscle cells, and stem cells in the hair follicles – in that order) of cells that I was talking about, when activated by, a small trigger such as, cold temperature, for a brief period of time, can cause goosebumps. But when the same trigger is persistent for a longer period of time it leads to prolonged exposure of the stem cells in the hair follicles to norepinephrine which can bring about wound healing or even, hair growth.

 

It’s a dual response so to say… goosebumps are a short route to providing temporary relief to external changes… But when the cold or, in other words… the external change triggering the goosebumps lasts, the stem cells know that it’s time for a new hair coat.

Just as there are times when you are left with an eerie sense of disgust and you very well know why and you have a very compelling fight or flight response! 

 

Even the elephant which was killed might have had this response! It must have run helter-skelter for its life. But I wonder if the people who had put the firecrackers in the pineapple, which, the elephant then consumed as food, were remotely as human as we would like them to be. 

 

It is said that next to humans, elephants are a species that are considered to be very intelligent or should I say responsive. They mostly are never involved in creating any menace. If any, they are mostly beneficial to mankind. But have we have been generous and kind to them?

In the past few years, there has been a growing concern about these animals around the world. Even in places that were once considered to be their safe haven, they are brutally murdered and the horrors of their killings are observed as carcasses left behind for us; as mere bystanders!

A recent mass killing of these lovely giants in the South African country of Botswana has been particularly concerning. Home to more than 35,000 elephants, the maximum in the world, Botswana witnessed the collapse of more than 400 elephants in two months, most of them; face down. 

 

The dead bodies were found in the protected area towards the north, Okavango delta, near the water bodies; and, this happened in a time when worldwide there is a decline in the number of these majestic jumbos. 

While poaches kill elephants for their tusks in Zimbabwe by cyanide poisoning, the same appears to not be the case in Botswana. The tusks are intact on the dead bodies and the predatory animals and birds feeding on the carcasses are alive.

Also, unlike the 100 giants that died in Botswana due to a combined suspected anthrax outbreak and a drought, the government does not believe it to be anthrax, and, probing continues to understand the cause of this conservation disaster.

 

I think much needs to be done for the conservation of these beauties… They not only have an impressive memory but are also incredibly intelligent. They are social, creative, and benevolent. In other words, they are the closest humans can have an animal being similar to themselves.

Elephants know every member in their herd. They can remember 30 of their own kind, at a time, by sight or smell. Not only that they are very adept at migration owing to their ability to distinguish signal cues and remembering important locations long after their last visits. 

Memories unrelated to survival are the most fascinating too! They remember not only their companions but also other creatures who have left a lasting impression on them. Isn’t that wonderful?

 

I can’t get myself to accept that such a wonderful species of life was targeted in a monstrous act, especially when the female elephant that died was pregnant, and, was out in search of food. Where is humanity really?

It hurts… It hurts them as much as it would hurt you. So, if you claim to be human which I really doubt if you are, first accept the anger and the distorted, blemished thoughts that you have within yourself. Not everyone is shameless like you to make a public display of their disgust and resentment and make someone innocent a target of one’s own quirky and adroituous fallacies just because they came in your way!

 

As I think of these people, I feel ashamed to be born into the human race.

I feel the unkind thoughts and actions that we may have, or do, are not really a part of our soul… It’s our experiences or upbringing or most importantly the way we chose to respond to situations that govern whether we are going to let the enemy within us thrive…

 

The enemy…

The enemy engulfs my soul

As I look into the water bowl.

I see my reflection and feel

Haven’t I yet paid the toll?

The water ripples through,

Moving my face to the sides.

I struggle to stay still amidst;

The unfathomable, Unforgiving

Chaos.

I want something in me to crash.

I am so tired of this mind trash.

I feel it isn’t me in the water bowl!

 

I feel… how can those people who have done such bad things sleep at night? How does their conscience not prick them? How do they choose to not take remedial action? And most importantly, how can they justify their actions? How?

I mean look at any of the man-made disasters in the world. There was some element of unresponsiveness and irresponsible behavior at the crux of it all. Take Chernobyl for that matter. One man decided the fate of so many innocent Russians, who, even today, are reeling under the impact of the terrible nuclear leak. Not only that, even the progenies of those affected are born dysfunctional in one way or the other. And… quite unabashed, the culprit has yet not been punished! And we say we live in a just world?

 

Well, maybe it’s good for a good laugh… But you know what, I am seriously tired of laughing even. Because I refrain from getting on board with the sick jokes and satirical wisdom that the leaders, politicians, and the people in authority want to bestow upon us. 

 

I think it’s time to wake up and see things for what they really are. 

 

Else, there will be a day… we will really not be able to identify herself. 

 

One day, we will all have to say, “I feel it isn’t me in the water bowl!”


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