I wasn’t born with this face.
I was human once, like you.
Well, not human, exactly. I am, of course, perfect and divine. But that is neither here nor there. I wasn’t born like this.
The first thing I ever saw was the naked body of my mother. It’s a difficult thing to be born into the world fully conscious, fully aware, with the wisdom of a grown man, and to witness as your first site on this Earth the unclothed body of the most excellent Queen of the Gods.
“Get to work, boy,” snapped Parvati. “I didn’t spend half an hour moulding you from clay so you could stand there slack-jawed and useless.”
“What shall I do, mother?” These were the first words I ever spoke, and I formed them with human lips, and a human tongue.
“Did I fashion your eyes incorrectly? Can’t you see that I’m bathing, and wish not to be disturbed? Stand guard on the door, boy, and let none in. No matter how much they plead.”
And with that she was gone, disappearing amongst the steam and perfume of the rose-strewn celestial baths.
Gingerly, I closed the door. I stood to attention, shoulders back, attent to my task. I would protect the entrance with my life. None but myself would be allowed to gaze upon the god-queen’s naked form. So I stood, leaning against the door, and I waited.
I heard him before I saw him.
He came with the clash of bells and the shriek of wind. Where he walked, the tiles of the palace hall cracked and burned beneath his feet, only to reform upon his passing. He gazed at me, and I heard beautiful music behind my eyes.
“I am Shiva,” he said. “I dance the dance that keeps the world turning. Who are you and what are you doing in my house?”
I was careful to betray no fear or weakness. I swallowed, then replied, “None shall pass.”
Shiva the Destroyer leaned forward until our noses were almost touching, and he looked me in the eye. “What did you say?”
“I said, none shall…”
“This is not an argument,” he said and, gripping his trident, swung it in a fearful arc towards my neck.
They searched and searched, but they never found my head.
Shiva, my father, was mortified upon discovering that he’d killed his newborn son. His queen was none too happy about it either. At my father’s command, the armies of the sun, the moon and the winds traveled out into the mortal world, seeking for me a new head. It was the Destroyer’s wish that the first animal they came across should be decapitated and its head attached to my body.
I think you can guess how that turned out.
That was many eons ago, and I’ve come a long way since then. You get used to it after awhile; the ears are great for keeping bugs away, and the trunk certainly comes in handy.
You see, I’m the god with the elephant head. But I didn’t always look like this.
A long time ago, on my birthday, I wore a human face.