Chapter four – BANG!
The sound rings out through the forest.
Shanti smells something familiar, what is that?
She turns to see them, a different group of the strange standing animals. They appear through the trees and these ones seem angry.
They’re shouting and squeaking and one of them is holding a strange stick towards the sky.
‘BANG! BANG! BANG!’
The elephants run back towards the palm trees, confused and trumpeting in fear.
Furious, Mum runs towards the group of shouting animals, blowing her trunk and flapping her ears menacingly.
The jungle rings with the sound of banging and screeching elephants. The herd tear through the forest, through the neat palm trees and back into the undergrowth of their home.
They run, run, run, destroying everything in their way until they’re back, back where they were days ago. Back in the forest they recognise.
They startle a group of langur monkeys, arguing about whose fruit is whose. A rhinoceros hornbill calls in the canopy above them. A giant, bright blue butterfly lands on Shanti’s trunk. Slowly the herd start to relax. Deep in the jungle, surrounded by familiar animals, they feel safe again.
It’s only when they are milling around together, touching trunks and checking everyone is safe, that Shanti realises Mum is no longer with them.
They wait for hours but she doesn’t emerge. Day turns to night and then day again. The herd comfort each other, stroking one another with their trunks. They huddle close together and, although the jungle is alive with the sounds of animals, the elephants are quiet.
Over the next couple of days, one by one the herd start to eat, swim and bathe in mud, but Shanti won’t.
After days, one of the aunts decides it’s time to move on.
The next sunrise they start their journey, slowly plodding deeper into the jungle.
As her aunts, cousins and nieces lead the way, Shanti lags behind.
Suddenly she hears a noise.
Louder now, like…like an elephant.
The herd braces itself, could this be a rampaging bull elephant? They gather around the calves ready to fight.
The trees part. Into the clearing something charges…
Shanti and the herd are overjoyed, they trumpet and run their trunks over Mum. She’s back! One of her giant ears is missing the bottom part and her leg bears a new scar - but somehow it’s been treated with something and patched up.
The herd is complete again.
They travel on, more slowly now as Mum hobbles a little on her injured leg. Shanti walks by her side, touching her ears, her trunk, holding her tail until finally Mum is annoyed, batting her off, wanting her own space. But Shanti doesn't mind. She stays as close to Mum as she can.
The jungle is changing, it’s getting smaller and the smell of the strange animals is spreading, but they’re back together and together the herd are invincible.
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