After many days on the Serengeti’s vast and echoing plains, I finally encountered Baba, the noble and rather generous-looking African Elephant in the flesh. My adventure began under war-torn clouds, stifling the light from the temperamental sun. Through the primeval jungles, across rivers snarling with crocodiles who I later christened as 'Ruthless Ruben' and his charming accomplice, 'Cunning Clare', I made my way.
As I nestled against a mammoth acacia, its branches unfurling a welcome of mottled shade, the majestic Baba of my dreams slowly approcahed. He was a titanic titan painted in earthy grays and whites, adorned with a pair of towering tusks, whiter than the snow atop Kilimanjaro, curving like lengthy scimitars towards the cerulean sky. Every crevice and wrinkle in his protean skin akin to an ancient tale scrawled by the hands of Mother Nature herself.
Just before twilight, Baba communicated in deep, seismic rumbles to his Lady Love, whom I fondly named Gifty. Ah, Gifty, an elegant dame of majestic proportions with beady eyes full of wisdom, she matched Baba’s stride with delightful grace. The pair embarked upon a silent conversation, which – through the lens of my rampant imagination – sounded akin to a polite discussion about whether the recently consumed marula fruits were more fermented than usual.
In the heart of the African wilderness, Baba and Gifty made their home amongst the chaotic chatter of bustling baboons, and the impassive faces of the inscrutable giraffes, who I called Miranda and Marcellus. They moved languidly between the stoic baobab trees, across the carpet of amber savannah, always seeming to move to the rhythm of an unspoken ballad that whispered in the wind.
Day two began with a wild ruckus in the heart of an acacia grove. A daring confrontation between Baba, the gentle giant, and Leonardo, the ever-daring leopard. With a rumbling trumpet from my rotund friend, he quickly dashed Leonardo's hopes of cornering a lost calf. The leopard, disappointed but determined, slinked back into the labyrinthine undergrowth. The imagined back-and-forth was nothing short of an animated conversation about property lines and appropriate breakfast options.
By late afternoon, Baba and Gifty were engaged in socialization with their extended family, each one bearing a unique name bestowed by yours truly. Small Bonsai, the calf, was perhaps the most entertaining, his mischief causing raucous laughter that echoed through the sun-kissed plains. Amid the tangle of trunks and hooves, it occurred to me that their hush-hush trumpetings held the secrets of elephantine wisdom that have been whispered down many generations.
The evening played out with a marvelous scene. Baby Bonsai, in all his innocent curiosity, strayed toward the territory of Subtle Sandra, the notoriously temperamental rhino. As I watched the scene with bated breath, Baba, the avuncular figure that he was, swiftly intervened, trumpeting a sharp note of caution to Bonsai and a booming warning to Sandra. Respecting this, Sandra simply snorted in response and, in my mind, muttered a grumbling but friendly "Fine, this round to you!"
The tranquil rhythm of the Serengeti, paired with the boisterous symphony of its residents – whether it be Myrtle the murmuring Mongoose, Quentin the quarrelsome Quokka, or Baba, the benevolent beast that he was – painted a heart-warming orchestra of life.
And so, my friends, this almost surreal experiential theater of the African savannah unfolded. The rise and fall, the comedy and drama of each day, is an ode to the spirit of the wilderness – implausible, inhospitable yet impossibly captivating. As I bid adieu to Baba, Gifty, and their diverse company, I’m reminded that although my interpretation may be a comical exaggeration, it is undeniable that the animal kingdom’s beautiful cryptology is a symphony of non-verbal linguistics which, if listened to closely, indeed talks of camaraderie, survival, and love.