Mirchani male cub M1 at Patpar Naala, Bandhavgarh. By Santosh Saligram

When the genetics of an intrepid warrior and an insouciant mother are spliced, the engendered bundle of joy is likely a carrier of much unbridled chutzpah who steps on the ‘crossing roads’ with the authority of a sheriff, the panache of a beauty pageant contestant, and the combined effect of an asphalt-laying machine: in other words, sporting much road-presence.

The one crucial thing he lacks, however, is the cunning to see through man’s depravity and his innate ability to sink the knife into familiar flesh. So when the same contraption that was quite innocuously merely an object of curiosity or even play hitherto, suddenly transforms into a lethal juggernaut mowing down all in its path, his surprise is great, the result catastrophic, the tart cruelty of the story excruciating and the ensuing aftermath a grotesque travesty of justice. 

But although his chutzpah lies terribly misplaced and bitterly wrong, he is not the loser, for his innocence is unstained and the soul intact, and a group of men with a shattered conscience witness the race slip deeper into the abysmal well of decadence.

Mirchani male cub M1 at Patpar Naala, Bandhavgarh. By Santosh Saligram

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