January 4--India, Krishn Battles the Armies of the Demon Naraka. Many of Judith's guests didn't understand how she could bear to have an umbrella stand made from an elephant's foot in her entry hall. If she overheard someone talking about it she'd turn and walk away. Two years earlier she and Mac had gone on safari, on the trip of a lifetime. It was a photo safari and it was wonderful. Africa was golden and vast and smelled like exotic perfumes. Their safari company took them out in the bush in open-topped Land Rovers where they got up close to all sorts of animals. They slept in tent cabins and ate bush meat, which was what the South Africans called whatever the cook shot for the meal. It was all very regulated but made them feel as if they'd landed on a different planet or maybe back in an old movie. The guides warned them daily about getting too close to the wildlife, emphasizing the word "wild," and cautioning them not to wander away from the group or the camp for any reason. By the end of the month's trip it seemed as if they'd wandered into a park with tamed animals all around. The guide would say they were driving out to see lions and there were the lions. Giraffes would stalk through the acacia trees as if on command. It was very quiet on the last afternoon before they got back to civilization. Judith left their tent to walk down the trail to the stream behind the camp. She heard voices ahead and assumed that others of their party were already there. When she got into the open, she was alone, the only human with a quartet of elephants, and she was too close. Close enough that when the bull elephant nearest her turned to drive her off he knocked her down and stepped on her ankle. The next ten minutes seemed like an eternity until Micah, one of the guides, came down the path and shot the elephant. Judith wasn't dead, but there were times in the hospital in Nairobi over the next three months that she wished she had been. The umbrella stand was the foot of the elephant that trampled her. Part of her loved to see it there knowing that the elephant wouldn't hurt anyone else and part of her hated it because her nightmares always started with a round gray foot descending to stomp her flat.
Now it's nearly time for lunch. I've had visitors but no customers. Back to shredding old receipts.--Barbara