Kyeema took in a deep breath of fresh Burmese air, catching the unmistakable scent of approaching spring rain. The river would grow large tonight so he knew Father would need help bringing the elephants up from their watering. He also knew Ar-Nar, his own elephant, would not be pleased leaving before her drinking was completed. It did not matter to Kyeema. Ar-Nar was the beast, not the master. The elephant would do as instructed. He took in another breath. The rain would begin soon. He must hurry.
Before he reached the waters of the Irrawaddy, Father met him on the path. He had one elephant by the ear and two others trailed behind, tails grasped by trunks, as elephants do. Only three elephants, though. Ar-Nar was not among them.
“Why did Ar-Nar not come, Father?”
“She is your beast, Kyeema.” Father pulled his elephant’s ear, perhaps harder than needed. “Did you teach her to follow when told?”
“I will correct her, Father.”
Kyeema started to pass the elephants, hoping to be able to leave before another word was spoken. It was not meant to be.
“You’ll not correct her without this.” Father threw a whipping cane to the ground at Kyeema’s feet. “That, Kyeema, is why she will not obey.”
Kyeema picked up the stick without looking at his father.
His head hung low as he again headed toward the mighty river. The path opened to a broad beach and he could see the stubborn elephant sucking up the contents of the Irrawaddy River. Ar-Nar’s ears flapped as she heard the rustle of twigs from Kyeema’s footsteps. As much as he detested working with them, Kyeema was amazed at God’s handiwork in forming the elephant. Ar-Nar fit her name. She was, indeed, Brute Power. The power was contained, though, in a massive body of gentle flesh. With her trunk she could lift a heavy log as easily as she could pick a tender flower. Her hearing and sense of smell were unbelievable. Yes, an amazing animal. Still, she was Ar-Nar, the disobedient.
Kyeema looked at the moonlight reflecting off the river water in shimmering cascades of dancing sparkles. His heart was not in what was to come. He held the whipping cane high in the air and turned to face Ar-Nar.
“Do you see what I hold, Big One?”
Kyeema paused as though he expected Ar-Nar to answer. The elephant just took another drink of river water.
“Father wants you corrected. He could be watching from behind the trees at this very moment. What am I to do with you?”
Kyeema saw Ar-Nar’s ears lift slightly. Her trunk raised and she shook her head from side to side.
“No... I will not let you off so easily this time. I am your Oozie. You must learn to obey when given commands.”
Kyeema waved the stick in front of her to make his point understood. Ar-Nar paid him no attention so Kyeema readied the whipping cane for the first blow. Her ears were still alert and her trunk raised far above her head. Suddenly, she dropped to her knees and lowered her head. Kyeema had not given her the command to kneel... something was seriously wrong.
“What is wrong, Gentle Giant? Has something frightened you? Or are you...”
His words froze in his throat as his inferior human ears finally heard what Ar-Nar’s ears and trunk had already sensed. Rain had already been falling up river. The elephant heard flood waters rushing toward them at an incredible speed. Kyeema now knew why Ar-Nar knelt. He tossed the cane to the ground and leaped onto the elephant’s knee. He then scrambled to settle across her mighty neck. As he settled, Ar-Nar rose to her feet and started for the trees at the edge of the beach. Kyeema could see the wall of water sweeping down the river. If they were hit by that wall, not even Ar-Nar’s strength would be enough.
“Run, Ar-Nar... Run!”
The elephant’s feet hit the path just as the raging river reached them. Ar-Nar’s legs nearly went out from under her, but her strength held both beast and Oozie up. She had gotten them to safety.
Kyeema, still straddled atop her neck, reached down to pat her head.
“Okay, Wise One. You have proved your point. You have trained your Oozie far better than your Oozie has trained you.”
He patted her head one more time.
“And you did it with love... not a whipping cane.”
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