Tony Barnstone
Parable of Farid and the Elephants

Farid stands at the stern end of the dhow
while Babu steers with one foot on the rudder.
He smiles and shouts, "Remember, Babu, how
when we were seven, elephants crossed over
from Manda Island?" "Yes," says Babu, rolls
a cigarette with one hand, lights it, smokes,
and shifts his foot and waits while Farid tells
the tale. "You should’ve seen how frightened folks
were then! They screamed and ran with heads turned back
and fell and broke a hand or crushed an arm
and then the elephants screamed back, and oh
they went insane, smashed boats. When they attack,
you have to shoot them dead. They cause such harm."
"And did you eat the beasts?" I ask. "No, no,"
Farid says, laughing. "We don't eat such meat.
Now hippo meat is good. Now that, I eat."


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