I remember with a wee bit of shame of how I got my girls to do the things I wanted them to by calling out to Yali to come and carry off disobedient kids to his cave. Hence, it is rather inexplicable why Ambika zeroed in on this name for our publishing venture. Perhaps, it is her way of turning the tables on me now.
Going beyond this little family secret, I think monsters, dragons or other mythical creatures of any culture hold us captive in fascination and deep dread. The Yali, of course, is no exception. A fearsome and powerful creature in Hindu mythology, it has a face of a lion, tusks of an elephant, tail of a serpent and a lithe, feline body. It is a frightening force to reckon with, as it is endowed with strength greater than that of a lion or an elephant. While stories about it are far and few in between, the terrifying creature has been sculpted on pillars in temples in South India. In many such sculptures, it is depicted as riding on another mythical creature called the Makara. And what would that be? Makara is a half terrestrial, half marine creature. A vahana or vehicle of River Goddess Ganga and Sea God Varuna, it has the head of an elephant or a stag and the body of a fish.
Just imagine what a useful bogeyman the two together could make!