The Long Chase...
“…and then a low growl was heard in the bushes. Our vehicle crept a bit closer and suddenly who should leap out of it but a monstrous tiger!”
I made the action of a leaping tiger, my hands raised above my head menacingly, as my son squealed in delight.
“And then?” he asked, his big doe eyes looking at me expectantly.
“And then? The beast began charging at us, roaring with all its might. The driver reversed the jeep as fast as he could. Our hearts were frozen with fright but we kept on clicking away our camera. It was the experience of a lifetime, after all. Finally, after chasing us for almost a kilometer, the tiger gave up and disappeared amidst the shrubbery.”
“And then?” the little boy was relentless with his query.
“And then, we came back to the resort,” I said with a sigh. “Story over. Go to sleep, now.”
As I tucked him into the blanket, the husband who was pretending to be asleep for fear of being made to tell a story, gave me a wry look and snorted “You could have very well told him the story of a dog” before rolling over to his side with a groan.
“Tiger, indeed!” I heard him mutter scornfully.
For, the poor man had never seen a tiger in the wild. And I had not seen a tiger since stepping out of the jungle I was living in till I was 9 years old. So, yes, essentially none of us had actually seen a tiger for the better part of our lives. Quite unlike some people I know who just have to enter a jungle for the first time and come back seeing at least two tigers. Grr.
Boy, what a long chase it has been, in search of that elusive tiger. Though, honestly, our search has been limited mostly to southern India where we are based. But even the southern jungles have tigers and people sight them quite regularly, don’t they? I just have to log into Facebook to see scores of tiger photographs uploaded every hour. Tigers scent marking their territory, tigers showing the Flehmen response, mommy tigers walking into the sunset with her cubs in a row, daddy tigers having territorial fights…. Why could not they grace us with at least a teeny appearance of their rear side?
Image source: greenhumour.blogspot.in
On the topic of rear side, that’s all we get to see even when we visit a zoo. We enter the zoo with the almost-happy thought that “at least here we will see a tiger, it is a zoo after all” and what do we get to see, pray? The brute would be lounging about somewhere far away with only a part of his back visible. We can’t even hope to see a tiger in a darn zoo!
We have now somewhat grown immune to our expectations falling flat in jungle safaris. So much so that we have even begun cracking jokes on it. Our favourite pastime during jungle drives is to start with the game “How would you like to see a tiger?” The response to this question has to be accompanied with full drama and action.
I would make an excited gesture and start off.
“Isn’t it lovely watching the group of deer crossing the road? Wait, they are actually running across the road. Wait, what’s that following them? It-it-it is a tiger! It is hunting the deer! Oh look, he got one of them!”
And so on. You get the drift.
And then, somewhere in the corner of my heart, I believe that maybe, just maybe, this might actually come true. I have regular vivid dreams of seeing a tiger in the wild, so real that I could scream out in happiness, so real that I feel like poking the husband awake to tell him about it. But then I wake up and realize that it was just a dream. Sigh.
5 years, 8 wildlife sanctuaries, 27 jungle safaris, thousands of rupees spent – all for the sake of seeing a royal Bengal tiger in the wild. They say patience is the key. For all my patience, I have been graced with the sight of pug marks and tiger poo. You could even call me an expert in finding tiger pug marks.
They say dream on, some dreams do come true. Do they? Would mine come true? Would I be able to actually see a tiger in my lifetime and not retire with just my childhood memories of playing with a tiger cub? Meanwhile, is there a guarantee that the tiger population will thrive in near future, given the bleak state they are in right now? Would my son be able to see a tiger in its actual habitat, and not in a text book with the words ‘Extinct’ written in bold over it?
Somewhere, hope lingers on. If I wish hard enough, if I make it apparent to the universe, maybe it will conspire to make my dream come true someday. And then, maybe all three of us – my son, husband and I, we will get to re-live the dreams that we harbor – that of meeting a ferocious tiger in the jungle, whom we could gaze upon and click to our hearts content, and cherish those memories forever.
PS: “I am blogging about my dreams and passions for the Club Mahindra#DreamTrails activity at BlogAdda. You can get a Club Mahindra Membership to own your holidays!”