The Shadow of Small Things


I have been told that I am in possession of the memory of an elephant

(perhaps it’s the memory of the tiny wooden elephant in the photo above.

I wonder if that elephant is in possession of my memory?

Did we swap?)

usually when I recall in detail an event which others have forgotten

but am I truly remembering it

are the details correct

or do I just have a vivid imagination

if no one else can recall the event

how do they know that my version of it is real?


“Memory was that woman on the train. Insane in the way she sifted through dark things in a closet and emerged with the most unlikely ones – a fleeting look, a feeling. The smell of smoke. A windscreen wiper. A mother’s marble eyes. Quite sane in the way she left huge tracts of darkness veiled. Unremembered.”
― Arundhati Roy, The God of Small Things


I did have the dubious pleasure of riding an elephant once

as a child

its skin was painfully prickly

and I immediately regretted allowing myself to be cajoled by zealous adults

while wearing a skirt

into doing something I had been reticent to do

as I wasn’t certain that the elephant wanted a child placed on its bare back

it was during that time when my father took me

to every circus he could find

as he was preparing to do a series of paintings of the subject



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