Palakkad: Proving that brain matters more than brawn even in tackling a tusker, a 12-year-old boy in Kerala has chosen to become a full-time mahout. It was the passion and love for jumbos that prompted Haridasan, a school drop-out in Mathur village, to become the assistant mahout of tusker Chathapuram Babu.
Within a few weeks of apprenticeship, Haridasan proved, to the surprise of the master mahout, that he could control the big animal with commendable ease and poise. Wielding the mahout’s wand and wearing a ‘lungi’ tucked up like a grownup, Haridasan has become a big hit in festival venues in the area where he is often found moving with the elephant. Always at his master’s command, Haridasan heartily lends helping hand to daily tasks like bathing the elephant, finding palm leaves and water and loosening or tightening the heavy ankle chain on the foot of the elephant.
"Every one needs a job in life. This is a job I like," is all that he says if asked why he chose to be a mahout. Haridasan gave up schooling when in class two. He has no regrets as he knew he was not going to make a mark in studies. He, however, admits that it was against the wishes of his parents, who are farm labourers, that he chose to be a mahout.