Wednesday, October 20, 2004

A tryst with the lord

Sachor and I waited at the gates for the safari canter to pick us up
for our last safari. The minute the canter drove into our place we
realised our chances of spotting a tiger was zilch. The vehicle was
packed with cantankerous school girls, for whom the safari was just an
extended socialising session. Weird are the ways of fortune. Just a
quarter of a mile into the core zone of the forest, I met the king.
Majestic even in his laziness. The bright orange coat shining
through the thick undergrowth on the forest floor. It was an
unforgettable sight. Just once he lifted his head as if to silence the
excited girls. The lustre of the coat, the harmony of the stripes, the
understated menace in the eyes, the dignity in his demeanour; I had met
perfection. The tautness in the nerves had gone. The splendour of the
forest, the grace of the cinkara, the beauty of the raptors and the
monitor lizards and the crocs and the storks and the trees and the
lakes ,everything now sunk in effortlessly.

I don't remember how long it took to reach the Berdha section of the
forest, but the driver stopped because he had picked out some fresh
pugmarks in the dirt track. We were now on top of the hill where the
predominant vegetation was moderately tall yellow grass. After a few
minutes, euphoria in the jeep turned to delirium, when just fifty
meters away a tigress came out of hiding and walked into a section
where the grass was shorter. She was smaller than the male we had seen
before but no less beautiful. We backed a little to stay close to her
and the girls were now hugging each other to expend all the nervous
energy that was building up from enduring all the excitement in
silence. We backed up for about fifty meters and all along the tigress
was just 30ft from us. She intended to cross the tracks behind us and
our backing up probably disconcerted her. She expressed it with the
most economical of expressions,a not-so-fussy stare. She seemed to give
the driver no choice but to stop, and he obeyed. The rest of the safari
was a daze.

Berdha Tigress Posted by Hello

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