Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Arthur: The Birthday Present Part II.

I ducked into a hollow under the overhanging fringe of lantana. In the shade I stood up.
Then I froze, I stood absolutely still…
Just a yard or so in front of me sprawled out in the cool shade lay a fully grown Bengal Tiger…

She stared at me. I stood rooted to the spot. With absolute terror I realised two things: her massive paws were just in front of me, she could so easily swat me like a fly; I had a gun but as I was painfully aware it was slung over my shoulder.
Not knowing what else to do I stood as still as I could. It seemed an age, but was probably only a few moments. Her huge yellow eyes stared unblinking into mine. Then she yawned, her huge mouth opening wide exposing her huge fangs. My heart jumped, but still I stood as motionless as I could.

Then slowly, almost casually she rose and stretched like the gigantic cat she was.
Again she fixed her eyes on mine before stepping forwards.
Then with her shoulder she pushed me almost gently, but still very forcefully aside as she slid from the shade out into the sunlit river bed.

I stood, not unmoving now because I was shaking like a leaf. Then after a moment I turned and ducked back into the sunlight. The tiger was almost at the opposite bank of the river, strolling towards the jungle.

I swung my gun off my shoulder and grabbed it awkwardly. Still shaking like crazy I brought it up, but probably because I was shaking so hard it discharged harmlessly into the air. The tiger picked up her pace and disappeared under the vegetation that covered the opposite bank.

I stood there watching the jungle she had disappeared into and sighed with relief. Relief because she had chosen not to harm me, but even more relief because my shot had gone wide and had not harmed her. I had brought up my gun without thinking, but as soon as I did I realised how wrong I would have been. For whatever reason she had chosen to spare me, it would have been very poor form to have repaid her with death.

I remained in India for more than another forty years. I went on many hunts, taking game of all kinds.

I should say of almost all kinds; I never hunted tigers after that day.
I decided that I had a debt to tigers that I would repay by sparing them, as she had spared me.

Arthur Russell contemplating a Madhya Pradesh Landscape 1965,
in forty years the area had gone from mostly jungle to predominantly farmland.
There are still Tigers in MP, but they are terribly endangered

12 comments:

N. R. Williams said...

Nice to meet you Al and thank you for following me. I love your story, so well written. I also love Bengal tigers. We have mountain lions in Colorado and they too are losing a lot of their natural habitat. I have never seen one in the wild, but I am sorry that we are forcing so many animals to survive in the urban jungle.
Nancy
N. R. Williams, fantasy author

The Words Crafter said...

Wow. It's almost like the tiger was testing him...

Really lovely story and thank you for sharing it.

Anne Gallagher said...

Yay for Dad! Wonderful story Al. I'm so glad he never hunted tigers.

Old Kitty said...

Oh phew for the tiger!!! :-)

I love that pic of Mr Russell staring off into the horizon of an amazing landscape.

take care
x

Joanna St. James said...

Beautiful story he has done his part to help an endangered species, but of course the paranormal lover in me is already thinking on another tangent.

Carolyn V. said...

That is an incredible story! I'm so glad the tiger didn't harm him, or he did harm it. =)

Jai Joshi said...

Hey Al, nice to meet you.

I'm very glad your grandfather didn't kill that tiger. They're so precious. And you're right that he had a gift for storytelling. This passage was mesmerising.

Jai

L'Aussie said...

Love this story Al. Great pic too!

Susan Fields said...

I'm so glad he didn't shoot that tiger! He's right - it would have been very poor form.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Al ..thanks for coming over to my blog - good to meet you .. the Tiger Tiger Burning Bright story is beautiful and thank goodness you didn't kill her .. they are such magnificent creatures .. I hope humanity doesn't kill them off. Thanks - Hilary

Al said...

Hi N.R.,
Thank you, of course it is my Granddad’s story, I’ve just retold it. Tigers are gorgeous. Mountain lions must be a sight to behold.
The pressure on tigers is double barrelled, as well as habitat loss they are being poached out of existence. Mostly so their body parts can be used in Chinese medicine and love potions.

Hi Words,
It is so strange. He never could work out why the tiger left him alone, even after thinking about it through a long life.

Hi Anne,
I agree, it is so cool he never hunted them.

Hi Jennifer,
I agree – phew for both of them.
I love that pic too, especially since I found it in some stuff that was going to be thrown out after his death.

Hi Joanna,
There is so much that can inspire the paranormal in this story. There are other stories in my family that would even do that more.

Hi Carolyn,
It is very fortunate the tiger didn’t swat him, or no Al would be around today.
And as for the tiger hopefully there are some of her descendants in MP today.

Hi Jai,
It is a relief. He was a wonderful story teller, maybe it runs in the family.

Hi Denise,
Thank you!

Hi Susan,
I’m glad too. It would have been poor form!

Hi Hilary,
I have never seen a tiger in the flesh (except in the zoo). This was my Grandfather’s story. They are magnificent, it is going to take a huge amount of hard work to prevent the last few being poached out of existence.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Al .. now I see .. I missed the first part - have only just RSSd .. so now I'll read part one properly! Cheers Hilary

PS - but they are just beautiful ...I've only seen lions & African animals .. Tigers I would love to see ..