By the time we reached Theppakadu, Mudumalai Tiger Reserve, the sun had taken on an orange hue.
The elephant camp’s daily feeding ritual, a photo-op for the thirty odd tourists, had almost reached its end. The elephants were full and refusing the huge balls of mash that the mahouts pushed up into their mouths. Flashes popped everywhere. The elephants eyed the little crowd and then nodded their heads.
This particular elephant, with its extraordinary tusks, was bored too. Just a makeshift barricade kept the beast away from me; a matter of formality just in case things went awry.
The barricade was a straight line of rusted metal, and since it was not an enclosure, the elephant could have walked around it to where I was. As the day’s vaudeville wound up, the elephants and the mahouts came around the barricade and walked up the incline to their shelter.
I sat in their path; my wheelie gone frozen – the imposing tusker walking up the thin path with purpose, its eyes on me. I had to have this picture and just when I focused, my saner friends pulled me away into the nearby grass. Couple of seconds later, the elephant passed by in a whoosh, the mahout glaring at me.
When I turned around in the wheelie, ruing the missed opportunity, the sunset had become wallpaper. And, etched on the wallpaper was the unmistakable silhouette of man and beast, transfixed as night settled on the tree-tops.
This time, I got the image.