Spicy aroma of kari filled up the air of a summer starry night, that has spread out a black velvet blanket with small dots in the sky.
Residents of a small Indian village were returning home, marry and flushed, after the show of the circus big tops located for a few weeks in their village.
The performance was over and there were spangles of confetti stayed on the arena. These spangles meant that the festive occasion was over.
Among the villagers happened to be Rajah with his little daughter, who had arrived from the city, accompanied by his servants.
They came to the village in order that they might watch the performance of the famous circus big tops.
“Daddy, I want this elephant! Papa, buy this elephant from these circus actors!” A little girl dressed in a white lace dress stamped her feet. The father looked at the capricious daughter indulgently.
The audience was dispersing. It was already too late. Suman was sitting on the ground behind the scenes and slipped a handful of cloves to his friend and then a handful of coriander.
“Abhey, you must learn this focus!” The boy burst into laughing and slipped to the elephant trunk the next handful of spices.
Suman, a twelve years old orphan, was found by a circus magician on the street. The boy quickly joined the circus company, having become an assistant to the magician who had provided him with food and shelter.
All days long Suman was busy cleaning open-air cages, feeding animals, helping other actors of the company if they needed his help. The rest of his time the boy spent with his friend, elephant Abhey. He walked with Abhey in the neighbourhood for a few hours every day; Suman treared the elephant to bananas and sweets that local people regaled him.
Suman was dreaming about the moment when he grew older he would be able to create his own perfomance with Abhey and they would tour around the world with their show. With such dreams Suman was walking along the dusty road beside his faithful friend, breathing fresh air in filled with scents of herbs and spices. A big orange sun was setting down the horizon.
“Abhey, we seem to be late! It’ll cost us our heads,” Suman worried. The boy felt that Abhey’s trainer would punish him for coming late to the rehearsal. Suman snuggled up to his friend, regretting not having watched the time. The boy and the elephant hurried up to the circus.
“Where have you been, you, rascal boy?” The magician shouted. He was a big fat man with red, wild hair, a red nose and a big paunch that looked like a watermelon. The magician slapped Suman on the back of his head.
“Rajah, please, forgive him! He is a terrible child! As you may see, the elephant is healthy and you may take him away right after the evening performance,” the magician scattered in compliments. He rubbed the moneybag with gold coins dangling on his neck and smiled pitifully. Rajah smiled approvingly in response and thanked the magician, and his little daughter clapped her hands joyfully.
“No, you can’t give Abhey away, — he is my friend!” Suman shouted in tears. He fell down to his knees in front of the man dressed in a white garment and grabbed pleadingly Rajah’s hem of a skirt. “Don’t take out him, please! I plead!”
“Buzz off, you, dirty boy!” The girl stamped her foot maliciously.
The magician took Suman by the scruff of the neck and pulled him away from Rajah. Abhey hit the magician with his trunk on the head and knocked him off his feet.
Suman spent a few hours before the performance with his friend crying. He didn’t know what to do and how he could rescue Abhey. The elephant was looking at the boy sadly and that made the boy’s heart throb with pain and anticipation of an impending separation. In Suman’s head the plan ripened.
“Abhey, my dear friend, I’ll rescue you! As soon as the performance is over we’ll escape and hide in the forest. Nobody can find us there at night. By the morning we’ll have found our way to the road, and be as it may,” Suman kissed the elephant and screwed up his eyes.
The performance began, as always, cheerful and noisy. The villagers and their children applauded joyfully and laughed. Among them there was the daughter of Rajah whom Suman had hated with all his heart. (This evil girl wants to steal his friend but Abhey is only a toy for her).
Time came for Abhey to get down the performance. Suman crouched behind the scenes and waited. He hoped that as soon as the performance was over he would be able to take Abhey away behind the arena but not to the open-air cage as always and they would escape to the forest where nobody could find them. The performance was running low when the rolling clap of thunder drowned out the music and the children’s laughter.
A heavy shower with sparkling myriads of arrows thrusted into the dome of the circus tent. The children shouted being startled. All was perfused with bright steel light. Abhey issued a plaintive scream. Suman threw himself upon his friend and took him away behind the scenes. The walls of the circus tent were quickly getting wet. The audience was stampeding from their seats.
The flood didn’t stop the boy. He, along with Abhey, worked their way resolutely through the thick bushes. The rain lashed Suman in his face painfully, the twigs scratched his thin little body but he wasn’t scared because his friend was beside him.
Suddenly a cold metal lightning pierced into a giant palm tree, starting the fire. Suman turned sharply and saw only a huge wet trunk rushing at him with a breakneck speed. At that moment something pushed on his side heavily and he fell down to the wet ground.
When the boy got back to his feet he turned slowly. In front of him there was lying Abhey, having been knocked down by a huge tree and was languishing feebly.
“Abhey, my little friend, please, stand up!” The boy was weeping. But the elephant couldn’t. He was looking at Suman with the big sad eye. Suman was wiping his tears mixing with the rain with his dirty palms. Abhey was dying. But the rain poured on creating an impassable wall. Behind Suman’s back human voices were heard through the sound of the rain. The company of actors and Rajah with his daughter picked their way through the thick forest.
Finally they managed to overcome the impenetrable thickets. Suddenly all stopped dead in their tracks seeing little Suman who was sitting on the ground next to dying Abhey. The face of Rajah’s daughter was distorted with fear and on the girl’s cheeks big pellucid drops sparkled. Were these tears or weeping rain..?
“Get my friend back!” A cry of heart full of pain, despair and hopelessness was heard from Suman’s breast. In the forest there appeared a mute friable silence. And only occasionally the hoarse thunder somewhat interrupted it.
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