Autobiography of a Tiger
Autobiography of a Tiger
I was bewildered to know that I was born blind. Though I do not recall those times, my mother told me that even she was born blind and so do the others. That gave me a little solace. When I asked her as to why be it so, she said that’s how it has always been. I was very inquisitive in the beginning, but as time progressed, I lost most of them, for no fault of mine. Probably, it was because I had not been getting satisfying answers from my mother or for that matter anyone. When I could see clearly, I was unable to understand as to who gave me sight. It was useless to ask my mother. She would say that it has always been like that.
When I was born, I was not alone. My mother gave birth to four of us, all males. I found later that she was a little disappointed. Probably, she wanted a female, just like her. Nevertheless, she gave her overflowing love to us. During the summers, she used to carefully select a cool place and make us rest. In the meantime, she would go for the hunt to feed us when we are awake. I should admit, with a little shame that I sometime cried thinking of her sacrifices. They say, tigers don’t cry and even if they do, they are not tigers. But I must say, I still have the black stripes over my golden body, and nobody can take it away from me.
I used to wonder as why my father never partook of the duties of bringing us up. I knew that my mother will never ask him. I would not say she was afraid of him. But there was a sense of acceptance. My father used to avoid us and spend a solitary life. In fact, he maintained his own territory and was pretty much strict about that. My mother never used to be perturbed at all this drama. She was self-dependent and had her own territory. I asked her one day,
“Mom, do you love father?”
“Why do you ask son?”
“I just felt like asking”
“We love each other son”
“Then why is he not caring us? Why is he living alone?”
“Son, he expresses his love by being alone. It is the law of nature and even love cannot escape from it. When you grow big, you will understand all this. But always remember, you are our child. You are a mixture of both of us.”
I could not decipher her explanation. So, I decided to stay silent.
Whenever father comes, my mother used to stand up and put her head down. She never faces him. One day, my father was scolding her. He was asking her to teach us something worthwhile and not allow us to keep whiling away our time in useless gossip and play. Are we not even allowed to play? If play is not worthwhile, then what is? I asked her that day.
“Son, tonight I will teach you all how to patrol our territory. Your father was right. It is high time you guys learn something. It will be your bread and butter for the years to come”
My siblings were also very disappointed.
When night fell, my mother asked us to follow her. I must say that patrolling was not all that bad. In fact, it was real fun. For the first time, we experienced many new things in our territory like those tall trees, the elephants, deer’s and our source of water. The lake looked beautiful in the night. I was surprised to find that, while all the animals drink water from it, mostly at the same time, no one tried to even hurt each other. No hunting while drinking was the rule. We also came to know the respect that we commanded in our territory. No one dare come near us. It gave me a sense of pride as well as power. I asked my mom.
“Mom, what is there on the other side of the lake?”
“Son, humans live there”
“Are they also like us?”
“I do not know much about them son. But I know this much that they need to be avoided. My father was taken by them once and he never returned”
“What did they do to him?”
“We do not know son”
I was not convinced. Many questions came to my mind.
“Did you not try to find out? It was your father” I said angrily.
“The rule was not to cross the lake. He did out of curiosity and hence he was caught. Curiosity is bad son” she said
I could not agree with her that night.
From the very next day, our training started. It was very rigorous and tiring. Accordingly, our diet was also enhanced by mom. My father used to sometime supervise us, and I felt very happy to perform in front of him. It was a different feeling. We used to compete with each other and tried to overcome our limitations. But I must say that my father never seems to have recognized it. There is always that calm in his face and I would not mind saying that it lacked expression. It appeared as though it was our job to outdo ourselves every time. Our efforts were never recognized. I used to ask mom.
“Mom, we really work hard. But father never seem to recognize it”
“How do you know son?”
“I see him every time. He is expressionless and seems to be disinterested”
“No son. It is not manly to express happiness. But remember one thing. He loves you all”
How come my mother and father are poles apart? Is it the dreaded law of nature? I have never understood the laws. In fact, I see it as an excuse offered for the limitations that we possess. We do not want to change and hence we have created laws.
My interest in humans kept increasing every day. I wanted to cross the lake some day and find about them. But how do I do it? I do not know how to swim. My mom never taught me. Probably, she was afraid teaching me. My inquisitiveness always troubled her. My siblings don’t share my views. They are not inquisitive. They do not want to cross the lake. They say that there is so much to learn within our territory and how can I think even to cross over. We once had an argument.
“Don’t you guys want to feel what’s on the other side?”
“We do not want to. There is so much to feel here, and we are not interested on the other side” they said
“You guys are afraid”
“Afraid? Of what? We are not afraid. It is just that we don’t want to go there. Mom will be very angry”
“She won’t even come to know. Let us at least try” I said
They thought for a while and could not arrive at a conclusion.
“Think it over guys. It will be once in a lifetime opportunity”
I had already planned to cross over the lake in the coming night. My siblings were trying to avoid me during the day. Probably, they have made up their mind on the issue. I called them towards a side and told them.
“Hey guys. Do not tell mom. I will do it tonight. It is up to you to join or not”
They looked at each other and they nodded.
I was getting very anxious. I know that with my training I can cross over but there was a sense of doubt. I told myself that doubts are for cowards. But there was this thought which troubled me the most.
“Why didn’t my father cross over? I thought he was very brave and tough. But still, he never chose to cross. Why?” I asked myself
“Are humans that bad? Even if they are, I need to find out” I reassured myself.
The cross over.
The night had fallen. I asked my siblings to engage my mom. I looked at her before leaving. It gave me tremendous strength and courage. It is she who gave me all this, I thought. Nevertheless, I need to follow my dreams.
When I reached the lake, it was dead night. I could find a few animals quenching their thirst. I did not want to disturb them. So, I chose a spot beneath the dead woods. It was a safe spot, and no one can spot me there. I got down, thought of my mom and slowly walked inside the water. Somehow, I did not feel anything new. It was as though I already knew how to swim. When the water level increased, I began to swim with ease. I was surprised. How can I swim when nobody had thought me? Is it the law of nature which I strongly disbelieved? I do not know. All I knew was, I could swim and that too pretty good.
The lake was bigger than I thought. It took me quite some time to cross over, even though my speed was not that bad. Nevertheless, I was on the other side. It all looked the same at first sight. But when I progressed inside, I could feel the heaviness in the air. There was also this strange pungent smell emanating from everywhere. The smell was getting stronger as I proceeded further. It all happened so fast that before I could sense, I was far into the jungle. I could not spot even a single animal except a few monkeys. They looked a little bit surprised at my arrival. I tried asking them about the humans, but they ran away. Why should they run away? I thought.
It was at that instance that for the first time I saw something moving behind the tree line. There was not one but many. They walked on two legs and were carrying a stick in their hands. Who are they? I asked myself. I stopped walking and slowly sat near a bush to observe them. I found that they also crouched near the trees and were observing me. What are they up to? Why are they hiding? Should I wait? Should i………. it was when such thoughts were crossing my mind, suddenly fire came out from the tip of their sticks, and something hit me. I could remember only that, and I fell unconscious to the ground.
When I woke up, I was feeling dizzy and there was this peculiar pain in my head. I soon realized that I was being kept in a confined space from which I cannot escape. For the first time in my life, I thought that I had made a big mistake. I should have listened to my mom after all. But there was something in me that kept saying that I should be brave and should never give up. I sat silently and started to observe. Some of these creatures that walked on two legs were sitting around the fire and were making noise. They were still holding the sticks by their side, the ones which can produce fire and hurt animals like us. Towards the side, I was shocked to find the skin of our species stacked one over the other, some claws as well as our teeth’s. “Will I meet the same fate as those animals? Mom, please save me” I told myself and closed my eyes.
It was during that time that some creatures came running towards those who were sitting. They too had sticks that could fire. After some confusion and firing, the creatures that caught me were tied and loaded in a big box that could move. They came near me now and looked at me carefully. They spoke with each other in some language that I could not make out. But I could sense this much that they were happy to have found me. I too was loaded in a moving box and was being taken somewhere. I was pretty tired and so I slept.
The human connection
“Get up. Enough sleeping. Get up” I could hear someone trying to wake me up.
I slowly opened my eyes and found three tigers surrounding me.
“Where am I?”
“Wherever you are, you are safe here” they said.
I slowly got up and sat down.
“Your food is kept there. You must be tired. Go and eat to your heart’s content” one of them said
He was right. I was feeling hungry and badly wanted to have something. I ate the food.
“How come you landed here?” they asked me.
“It’s a long story”
“We have all the time in the world”
I gave them a brief introduction regarding our family and told them the whole story starting from the crossing. They heard me out patiently.
“Your story is very different. We never wanted to explore. All three of us were caught by poachers, just like you, but while we erroneously went into their territory”
“Poachers? Who are they?”
“They catch us for using our skin, claws, teeth etc. I have heard that they sell it for money”
“Money? What is that?
“Even we do not understand it. But we know this much that it is very important to them. They can kill us for this. Sometimes they kill their fellow humans for money” one said
“They are a strange species” said the other
“I want to go back to my mom. They should be waiting for me” I said
“Mom? Forget getting back. They are not going to leave us. The forest officials have rescued us. We were rescued many months before you. They have been giving us training, after which we might be shifted to the Zoo”
I was shocked to hear this. I have made a terrible mistake and am facing the consequences.
“What training? For what?”
“Nothing much. It is just familiarization with humans and their way of life. Nothing else”
“What is a zoo? Where is it”
“We do not know where it is but we know this much that we will be kept in a den for humans to see” they said
“Why should they see us?”
“I have said that humans are a strange species. They do things which we cannot comprehend”
“How can this be? There should be some explanation to all this”
All three were annoyed.
“Oh, you want explanation. Then you better ask them yourself” they said laughing.
I regretted my decision of leaving my home. My curiosity has brought me here and that too among a strange species. I remembered my mom telling me that curiosity is bad. I wanted to cry but gathered myself.
After a month
I had been shifted to a zoo a few days back. It is a strange place to be. As of now, I am kept alone. I kept cursing myself for a long time and as a result of which I was very angry. A small den has been given to me and I cannot sit there the whole day. When I come out, there are these humans who shout and scream looking at me. They wear all kinds of funny dresses which irritate me. Some of them even throw stones at me and harass me. Because of all this, I never came out of the den during the day.
I was not able to understand them at all. What do they do for a living? What joy do they get keeping me here? Strange are their ways. How cruel they should be to have kept me here without allowing me to hunt or be with my loved ones?
Today I wanted to teach them a lesson. How can they harass me like throwing stones at me? Not everyone, but some of them who do such a thing should be taught a lesson. I was waiting for the opportunity. It arrived in the noon.
A large group of humans approached my den. They were making loud noises. One of them picked a bottle and threw at me. That was the triggering point for me. I rushed towards him in full force and banged the cage with my paw. The whole group was shocked seeing my other side. They all ran away from there.
I went into my den. Sat in a corner and started to sob. What a cruel species they are? Don’t they even have a little bit of love left in them? I wonder who created them and for what purpose. These thoughts kept me busy for a long time. At last, I became so tired that I slept.
I woke up to the sound of approaching steps. It should be them again I thought. Probably they have come to seek revenge. I slowly put my head out to see what they are up to. I was surprised. The next few moments were something transformational.
A large group of children had gathered outside the den. They were all holding placards which read statements like:
We Love You
I could sense their feelings towards me as it was very powerful. For the first time I could sense love emanating from humans. I came out and sat in front of them. It was a great feeling. Their love started to transform my opinion against them. After all they are not all that bad. They too can love.
I was wrong about them. As long as these children are there, they have the power to transform the rest of their species, however bad they might be. They are the future of humanity. With such thoughts in mind, tears started rolling down my cheeks. I cried after a long time.