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Taming of the Tiger
by Ramendra Kumar

Vinashak, the tiger was the king of Yahoo jungle. He was famous for two things - his magnificent set of whiskers and his mean and vicious temper. His whiskers were really fantastic - long and sharp - they stood like proud sentinels. They filled him with a deep sense of pride. He was also well known for his nasty temper and the animals of the jungle were terrified of him.

Vinashak was a perfectionist too - that is he wanted everything done to perfection.

Chaalu the fox had once been asked by Vinashak to guard a freshly killed deer while the king returned from a bath in the jungle pond. Poor Chaalu had got tired of waiting and had dozed off. In the meanwhile Trahi the vulture had picked off a morsel of flesh from the deer’s tummy.

Chaalu was busy in slumber land enjoying a cosy dream: he was Chaalu Khan the king of the jungle and Weepy Vinashak was his slave. Chaalu Khan was issuing orders and Weepy Vinashak was grovelling at his feet and carrying them out.

“Lift me high in the air and carry me on your back across the jungle,” thundered Chaalu Khan. Poor Weepy Vinashak obeyed, his tail tucked between his legs. Chaalu Khan felt himself rising in the air....suddenly he found his flight getting quite bumpy.

Chaalu opened his eyes and was about to tear apart Weepy Vinashak when he found he was in mid air and rising higher and higher at a dizzying speed. Just below him the fearsome Vinashak - not Weepy of his rudely broken dream - was snarling at him.

As Chaalu landed in a heap at Vinashak’s feet the king landed another well-aimed kick on Chaalu’s back side and the poor fox was air borne once again.

‘At this rate the animals would soon start calling me Chaalu the eagle for I seemed to be spending more time in the air than on the ground’, thought Chaalu wryly as his head got stuck in the thick branches of a tree. And he remained in a mid air till a few monkeys and gravity helped him return to first base.

~*~

“How long are we going to tolerate this intolerance?” Chaalu asked his face turning red with anger and his tail bristling.

He was addressing a secret meeting of the animals of the jungle convened by him.

“The king’s temper tantrums are becoming unbearable,” Chaalu continued.

“Yes, Chaalu is right,” said Ganpat the elephant.

“I also agree. Vinashak is getting more and more mean and short tempered,” grunted Kaaliya the bear.

“Something should be done about this,” yelled Lampat the chimpanzee.

“Yes, yes, something should be done, something should be done,” there was a chorus.

“Silence!” Ganpat raised his trunk and snapped. Let us quietly think of a solution.”

For a few moments there was silence then a gentle voice spoke up, “I have an idea.”

Everybody looked up in surprise.

It was Chikbum the wild ass.

“Yes, Chikbum tell us,” Ganpat said giving him an encouraging look.

“I think we should go to Buddhi the owl. I am sure she’ll have an answer to our problem.”

Buddhi was the oldest and wisest creature in the jungle. .

“This is a very good idea, ” nodded Ganpat.

It was decided that next night a delegation would meet Buddhi and seek her help.

~*~

At the specified time the delegation reached the spot. Lampat climbed up the tree and requested Buddhi to come down.

A few minutes later Buddhi descended gracefully and perched on the lowest branch of the Banyan tree. She looked ancient with white feathers, a wobbly beak and dull eyes. But when she spoke her voice sounded young and vibrant.

“Well, what is it you want?”

Ganpat quickly explained their problem to Buddhi.

“What did you say the king’s name was - Vinashak? He sounds exactly like Rakshak - the king of the jungle when I was a teenager. This Vinashak fellow must be Rakshak’s great-grandson. Anyway Rakshak too had the same problem. But finally he was cured. I think the ‘medicine’ that worked for Rakshak would also work for his great grandson?”

“What medicine?” the animals asked in one voice.

I’ll tell you,” Buddhi said.

~*~

Many moons later, one evening, Vinashak was sitting in front of his cave and making vicious faces. He liked to keep himself in practice and whenever he was free he utilized his time by making mean faces.
Just then he saw a sight, which made him dizzy.

The most beautiful tigress he had ever seen was walking a few yards away from him. At that magical moment Vinashak fell hopelessly in love. Before he could even gather his wits and get up the tigress had disappeared into the jungle.

Vinashak looked everywhere but he couldn’t find her. That night the poor love struck tiger couldn’t sleep. He kept dreaming of the beautiful tigress....

The next day, at around the same time, he saw the feline beauty again. This time she was heading for the jungle pond. Vinashak bounded after her. As she bend down to drink Vinashak spoke in as gentle a tone as he could muster.

“O enchantress! What is your name?”

The tigress looked up. At close quarters she looked even more gorgeous.

“I don’t give my name to strangers,” she said, with a haughty toss of her elegant head.

“B...but I am not any ordinary stranger. I am Vinashak, the King of this jungle,” he declared.

“So,” she replied coolly and walked away.

For the next few days Vinashak doggedly pursued her.

Finally one day the tigress stopped and looking him straight in the eye asked, “Why are you pestering me so much? You are supposed to be the king of the jungle, surely you have better things to do than to run after me.”

“I...I...” Vinashak was taken aback. He didn’t know what to say. “I....I,” he stammered and then finally blurted out, “I love you, angel of my dreams, will you be my wife?”

She looked at him for a few seconds and then said, “Actually I wouldn’t mind except for one thing.”

“What?” asked the tiger eagerly.

“I don’t like your whiskers. You’ll have to cut them off first.”

“What?” shouted the tiger, turning red in the face.

Vinashak was really proud of his whiskers. He felt they gave him an aura of power.

“B...but how can I do that? I’ll look like a clown. The animals will all laugh at me. They won’t take me seriously anymore. I’ll lose my authority.”

“Authority and power are in the person not in a few straggly hairs. I wouldn’t like to marry a tiger who values his whiskers more than his love,” the tigress declared and walked away leaving behind a shattered Vinashak.

The poor tiger didn’t know what to do. He went around like a zombie, for the next few days.

Finally he couldn’t bear it any more. He pulled his whiskers off with his bare paws and then tracking down the tigress presented himself before her.

“Here, oh beautiful one! Your condition is met. Can we get married now?”

The tigress looked at Vinashak for a few seconds and nodded shyly.

“Yahoo!” Vinashak yelled and then gently asked, “Darling, please tell me your name?”

“Divya,” the tigress said batting her lovely eyelashes.

~*~

Two evenings later Ganpat, Chaalu, Lampat and Chikbum met Divya.

“Thanks a lot Divya for getting Vinashak to cut off his whiskers,” Lampat said.

“Buddhi was right. With the disappearance of his whiskers his meanness and anger too have vanished,” Ganpat said.

“Yes, you know, last evening, Vinashak actually invited me to share the antelope he had killed,” Chaalu added.

“So the trick which worked for the great-grandfather also worked for the great-grandson,” said Lampat clapping his paws.

“Divya, now you can go back to your home in Champak island. The animals of Yahoo jungle will always be grateful to you,” Chikbum added.

“I don’t want to go back,” Divya said.

“What!” the animals exclaimed.

“I have fallen in love with Vinashak.”

“Fa.... fallen in love with that monster...er...I...I mean with the King,” Chaalu almost shouted.

“Yes, I have. He looks so cute without his whiskers,” Divya said and walked away to meet the King and her future husband Vinashak.

Image under license with Gettyimages.com

9-Jun-2008
 
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