Can a wild animal's instincts approximate those of human's; or more appropriately, are humans really "a cut above" ferocious wild animals deep in the heart?
The diary records of a travelling missionary, the Reverend Joseph Amrito Lal Singh, rector of the local orphanage, contained detailed accounts of his experiences in Midnapore, deep in the heart of India, where he lived in a small community.
Immediately upon arrival and knowing him to be a priest, the terrified and deeply superstitious villagers pleaded with him to exorcise the evil spirit of a dreaded "man ghost" which seemed to stalk them like a wild savage beast.
And so, on October 17, 1920, after much persistence, the Reverend Joseph Singh agreed to go with the villagers to where their supposed ghost was lurking if only to allay what he thought was the imagined fears of simple minds. With a posse of nervous villagers, he was led to a series of holes in a clearing, from where the villagers believed the specter appeared--and waited for several hours. This is where his diary records come in:
"All of a sudden, a grown-up wolf came out from one of the holes. This animal was followed by another of the same size and kind. The second one was followed by a third, closely followed by two cubs...one after the other. Close after the cubs came the ghost - hand, foot and body like a human being; but the head was a huge ball of something covering the shoulders and the upper portion of the bust, leaving only a sharp contour of the face visible, and it was human.
Close at its heel there came another awful creature like the first, but smaller in size. Their eyes were bright and piercing, unlike human eyes."
What the Reverend and the villagers saw with their own eyes, that is, what the latter thought had been a ghost was, in fact, two human little girls abandoned by their mother and raised from infancy by a she-wolf!
As soon as they emerged from their cave, snarling and on all fours, the villagers killed their mother she-wolf and the Reverend rescued the "wolf girls," who he christened Amala and Kamala and assessed to be about 8 years old and 18 months old, respectively, at the time.
The girls ate only milk and raw meat out of a bowl on the ground, lapping and tearing with sharp teeth like the wolf cubs they had been raised with.
Singh claims in his diary that the two girls, typical of feral children, walked and run swiftly on all fours but were unable to stand up and, as a result, had developed thick calluses on their palms and knees. Wikipedia further says that they had an aversion to sunshine, and could see very well in the dark, and at night they would howl like wolves, calling out to their "family". They could not talk or laugh but exhibited an acute sense of smell and an enhanced ability to hear, like the natural hunters their she-wolf mother had been teaching them to be.
Amala and Kamala appeared to show no human emotions of any kind, apart from fear. Amala survived captivity for only a year. When she died in 1921, of kidney infection, her sister, ironically, showed signs of mourning. Kamala cried two tears. She lived nine years after, learned to stand upright, eat cooked food and speak a few words with a vocabulary of 30 words. She died a human being.
Let me end this article with the same diary entry of Reverend Joseph Singh: "...the mother wolf, whose nature was so ferocious and affection so sublime. It struck me with wonder. I was simply amazed to think that an animal had such a noble feeling surpassing even that of mankind ... to bestow all the love and affection of a fond and ideal mother on these peculiar beings."
No Little Red Riding Hood fairy tale, indeed.
The World's Most Fantastic Freaks
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