There are those who would call me an “odd duck”. Those who know me well would have kinder things to say. Being born amongst the king of all kings “Zamba”, a Lion who laid with lambs, it was he who first protected me and it was his great grandson, Zamba Jr. who last saw me whole, the person I was before my life changed.
My true friends, who have seen me through thick and thin, know my true soul. I am not, nor have I ever been “normal” I fight for justice, defend the innocent and stand by my word. Something the animal kingdom taught me. Not any human.
Because of the way I was raised, I never knew the true meaning of being a human. I know this sounds strange to most, but I was raised amongst the purest of souls and the humans were on the sidelines. I didn’t realize I was so different till I entered school and had to play with human children, some incredibly cruel and others with kind souls. This perplexed me to no end; it was a challenge I would face my whole life.
When I was in grade school, I was under constant discord with my teacher, who persecuted me and said I was a Liar who needed help. I told my father what the teacher had said; “Tana, you can’t come into my class and tell stories of swimming in a lake with your elephant, and riding on a Lions back!”
My parents received a letter from the school stating that they highly recommended I be given a psychological examination because; I have a very vivid imagination and continued to tell lies. And I would not stand down, after the teachers confronted me.
My father came to me and said, “Don’t worry honey, this will all be sorted out soon. Be strong and stand your ground!”
The morning before I went to school, my dad pulled me aside and said I have a very big surprise for you and all those who have doubted you. I am sorry it took so long for me to understand, but meet me in front of the school at lunchtime.
I went to school that day and carried it on like any other. At lunch I ran to the front, as Pet day was about to begin. At the entrance was a huge semi truck and I knew!
I ran to my fathers and mother’s side, standing next to the semi, and hugged them both. Then I heard Frank, one of the trainers, calling out to Modoc. She started to descend from back of the open truck one massive leg at a time.
Modoc was one my parents greatest of animals. She stepped down from the massive slab of timber and turned around to greet me, with an explosion of air from her partially paralyzed trunk, I lifted it with my 6-year-old hands and blew into it, a greeting we had. She blew back and I released her trunk and walked to her front leg and gave her a massive hug. Frank, took me by the hand and said, “stand back Tana! I need her to stretch her legs first.”
I hadn’t realized that a crowd had gathered and standing amongst them was the teacher who had called me a liar! I looked at her and stared, as any cub, which knew she had strength behind her. The teacher was speechless. My dad walked over to her and said, “Don’t ever call my child a liar again.”
Modoc had stretched and was asked to come down. Which meant, she got down on all fours and awaited my ascension. I climbed up her side with help from Frank and upon reaching her back I scooted up to her neck. Frank yelled out “Tana hold on” I leaned in to Modoc as she stood up, feeling every muscle underneath my tiny frame and her coarse hair tickling my thighs and felt Frank’s hand on my foot the whole way. I loved Frank tremendously. He was always kind and good to all.
Now I was on top of Modoc, an elephant like no other, who was majestic in her own right and had survived incredible circumstances. I felt pride and honour to just be with her. She was loving and gentle and had a soul that was beyond any human I had ever met.
Frank yelled out, “Mo, move up” and with that one statement, Modoc took a step that rocked me from one side to the other, then another step. We were on our way into the school for all to see.
The Principal of the school was a kind man. He didn’t know any better until he received a phone call from my Father, who explained who I was and who he was! The Principal granted full permission to my Dad to bring Modoc to the school and to put a stop to all the bullying I had undergone.
The teacher who never believed me and had written the letter recommending me get psychological help, stepped aside as Modoc’s massive tonnage walked by her, with me on top, feeling like a princess and right at home.
We walked into the school and huge cheers of excitement exploded!
That was the day I realized I was different from others, because of the life I was born into and the privilege of being raised with such amazing creatures. Very few would ever get to know or understand. It has been both a curse and a blessing. And I have learned so much more in the years since!
Thank you Modoc, Frank (R.I.P.), Dad and Mom. It was the one of the proudest moments of my young life.