Why Aren’t We Ready Yet to Let Go of the Yeti

Pop Culture

Why Aren’t We Ready Yet to Let Go of the Yeti

Illustration: Palak Bansal

All hail the Indian Army for restoring the dreams of every 10-year-old out there who believes in the Yeti more than he believes in God. An army mountaineering team claimed to have spotted footprints of the mythical abominable snowman of the Himalayas, and released photos as evidence to support their claim.

This comes as great news to cryptid fans like me, who were devastated at the findings announced by scientists in the Royal Society’s journal, Proceedings B, in 2017. A team of killjoys, led by the University of Buffalo’s Charlotte Lindqvist, published findings that claim the Himalayan legend of the Yeti is just that – a legend.

Driven by the need to crush childhood dreams of kids worldwide, Lindqvist’s team analysed a wealth of genetic material, including hair, fecal samples, and preserved taxidermy relics, to attribute them to three different species of Himalayan bears. Bears! Imagine every thrilling tale of adventure in the Himalayas you’ve ever heard, from Tintin to Chacha Chowdhary, and think of how the dramatic stakes would have fallen if the monster stalking our heroes wasn’t Yeti, but just good old Yogi.

At a time when our Hindutva historians are arguing that legends like Padmavati are actually facts, why does the legend of the Yeti have to be debunked? The monster of the mountains has become an icon unto himself; a signifier of the untamed wilderness that sprawled around our towns and cities. But that wilderness, just like the Yeti, exists only in our imaginations. We are on track to have more plastic than fish in our oceans by 2050, we’re chopping down rainforests faster than Charlie Sheen knocks back shots, and we’re casually watching Earth’s sixth mass extinction event unfold in front of us like the string quartet on the Titanic. As our wilderness gets sacrificed at the altar of “civilisation”, why wouldn’t it’s most enduring mascot be bound to go down the same path?

Cryptids have always been representations of what little mystery is left in the world, so screw science for crapping all over our imaginations

The death of the Yeti makes me wonder which childhood obsession of mine is next on the chopping block. Will Bigfoot turn out to be really tall hillbillies with an addiction to fur coats? Will the Loch Ness monster be outed as a family of otters trying out a synchronised swimming routine? Given how these cryptids have always been representations of what little mystery is left in the world, screw science for crapping all over our imaginations.

I believe Lindqvist knows exactly what she’s done to us, which is why she has tossed bereaved souls like me a bone. “Even if there is no proof for the existence of these cryptids, it is impossible to completely rule out that they live,” she added at the end of her report.  Good on you, Lindqvist! Thankfully, like they do so often, the Indian Army came to the rescue with their findings. Anyone who now questions the Yeti’s existence can be labelled anti-national and safely ignored, and for once, that makes me happy. The Yeti is, and will always be, an enduring symbol of the fact that there’s more to the world than skyscrapers, hyperloops, and bullet trains; because, to quote The X-Files, we want to believe.