You humans call me a big cat. Well, the comparison looks awkward to me as I don’t like playing with kids or getting pampered by women. I would rather eat them for breakfast. Calling me a Tiger though look appropriate, I would have preferred a much scarier word than that. I did overhear the story of Rudyard Kipling’s ‘The Jungle Book’ in which a Tiger is the chief villain. Hmm…you people make up the stories rather than telling the facts as they are. For that reason, I would have behaved no different than ‘Shere Khan’ and I would never have made friendship with ‘Mowgli’. I was governed by laws of the nature until I met with an accident.
Tigers do not believe in luck or fate. So I think my encounter with human beings is purely an accident. When I was growing up, I did not know that human race existed. Playing with two siblings under the protection of my mother was the world to me. Mother would take us out and let us watch from a hiding how she hunts. All four legged animals, thinner the legs, bulkier the stomach, better the meal for us. Time was running fast. I did not know then what it meant when they say happier times. Wait for the right moment, Attack! Mother had trained us well and I learnt to hunt on my own. That is when mother’s affection started fading and soon she pushed me out of her territory.
I was on my own comfortably. An ambush strike on the way to waterhole would keep my hunger satisfied for couple of days, then I would sleep well and keep my cool before the need to hunt again. During my walks marking the territory instinctively, I noticed how scared other animals are seeing me. Am I the prince of this jungle? Yeah, looks does matter. Scarier the appearance higher the respect. A plain growl would keep my path free. It did not take much time to transform from a prince into a king.
All was well until I met a human accidentally. There was not one but many. They appeared like large monkeys (you remember you called me big cat), walking on two legs but they were not jumping from tree to tree. They appeared weak. I did not want to eat them but I was irritated a lot by their presence. I waited until one of them singled out and made an appearance before him. My intention was to scare him out of my territory. No doubt he was scared but he shouted and all the crowd began to gather. I just disappeared from the scene, not of out fear but sheer disgust.
After that incident, I had a sense of being watched whenever I went out. Soon I had to meet a human being again. At some distance he was standing on the top a tower, holding a stick aiming at me. Blood rushed to my face and I instantly jumped on him. What a surprise, his stick fired something which pierced my hind leg. I fell down and could not run anymore. In no time, I lost my senses and collapsed.
After what it appeared to be a deep sleep of many days, I woke up in a small island like place surrounded by barricades. There is room to walk but not big enough as few steps would bring it to end. Go back and go round. ‘Oh, this is a confinement’ I realized. I was captivated. Food came regularly, what a relief but it is boring to eat at same time of the day. I missed unpredictability of the jungle. I hear sounds of other animals in the vicinity and understand that they are captivated too. Each animal has a confined space here. What kind of a place on earth is this? No exercise to muscles and I am not using my paws and teeth which were my ultimate tools in hunting. I started looking at what is outside of those barricades. There were humans, tens of them, standing on the other side iron bars and staring at me. The moat is wide between us. While I can attempt a jump off the moat, those iron bars would still hurt me else I would have taken lives out of those bodies one after the other. I am out of options. I just lie-down and stare back.
You know no Tiger keeps a dairy. Reading and writing is such a waste of time and a Tiger would rather live life to fullest remaining in action. As my hunting skills and tools are rusting, I am learning to think like humans. Yes, there is nothing else to do. I don’t mean life is bad in confinement but there is no excitement. To kill time, keeping a dairy, spending time in the reminiscences may not be a bad thing. Will they ever leave me back in the jungle? I am not sure if I want to go back. You think Tiger loves freedom over timely food? You can find out for yourself which Tiger lives longer. Then extended life is the price for freedom. Is not it? I don’t like thinking this much. Let me take a nap.