Here’s an interesting story from earlier this year. A woman found naked, filthy and unable to speak any known language was found in the Cambodian forest and was claimed by a nearby family as their daughter lost almost 19 years before.
Rochom P’ngieng, 27, was literally caught by workmen who had noticed that something was stealing food from their lunchboxes. Imagine their surprise when, instead of some curious monkey, they find a naked adult woman who ran around on all fours.
When he heard about this wild woman that had been taken out of the forest, local police officer, Sal Lou, travelled to see her and recognised her as his long lost daughter. She looked much like her his wife and bore a scar on her wrist just like that his daughter had.
The woman was taken home and lived with policeman’s family for seven month. During that time she was made to wear clothes (which she often tore off) was subjected to a kindly meant Buddhist cleansing ceremony which was hoped would cleanse her of whatever evil spirit made her wild, and was held against her will as she made several attempts to flee back to the forest. In all that time she screamed when people came near, did not speak more than three or four words and did not break from a forest lifestyle of walking on all fours and being active at night.
Later she was seen with a naked man who ran away when villages got close. Seven months after her capture she disappeared into the forest and hasn’t been seen since.
Stories like this and other feral children remind us how slim the line between animal and human. Though there are always links to animals in these children’s stories, when studied, they are often found to be profoundly autistic with their upbringing often having more to do with neglectful parents than wild animals. It seems the woman had several scars on her wrists, ankles and feet which gave authorities the impression that she had been held captive for some time. It could well be that she was once the 8 year old daughter of this loving family, but being lost in the forest had led her into evil hands from which she had recently been released.
I also think that stories also make us wish romantically for a time when human lived at peace with animals. I think many of us long for Eden where all animal life lived in peace. I wonder how many of us just want to throw off our clothes and walk into the rainforest?