Illustration by Heather Coles

From his vantage point, Chandare saw the elephant turning to charge. He shouted at the boys to go help the foreigners. The boys humped off the tree, ran towards the fleeing men, grabbed their gear to enable the men to run faster and shouted to them to climb on to a tree nearby. The frightened men clambered up sturdy trees. The elephant came charging in, stopped under the trees where the intruders kept climbing further up, made a lot of angry noise, stamped its feet, spraying brown dirt into air with its trunk all the while circling the trees.

The she elephant walked in calmly, looked on, walked up to the angry bull elephant, put her trunk around him as if to calm him down. After a while, they ambled along the path towards the Land Rover. The men and the boys remained hugging the tree trunks for a good while longer. Then they heard the crunching noise of metal.

Life-of-SlibirisThey waited what seemed like an eternity. Elephants did not return. Chandare motioned to the men to get down and follow him.

The badly-damaged vehicle was sitting on its head. The men were stranded in Ambarawa as the night slowly crept into Ambarawa.

Silibiris suggested to Chandare they take the foreigners to the temple for the night.
The boys explained to Lokuhamauduruwo that the foreigners were stranded in Ambarawa without their vehicle. The monk made arrangements for them to spend the night in the temple.

The following morning, Lokuhamduruwo mobilized the villagers to get the vehicle. Even though it was badly damaged, to the relief of the foreigners, it was still driveable.

They left Ambarawa the following day, profusely thanking the boys for their adventure and the rare photos which turned up on National Geography magazine three months later along with a photo of Silibiris and the boys jumping into the lake from the kumbuk tree.
Chandare’s stocks went up higher than that of Danda’s in the eyes of the village boys. He took all the credit for the adventure.

Silibiris returned to practising his Engris on water buffalos and monkeys.