Smelling the Leaves

 

After experiencing the sensational sighting described here, you would be perfectly vindicated in terming us avaricious if we asked for more supplies of the pleasure. But Bandhavgarh has a habit of treating the visitor to grand and sensational climaxes.

 
Driving towards the park gate briskly so we may exit on time and avoid being fined our annual allowance for beer, we rounded a blind bend on a road that went sharply uphill. I was at that time drifting in the memory of the unforgettable sight of a male tiger crossing in front of us just minutes before, when those words were heard again – “Woh dekhiye, sir, tiger baitha hai!”
 
Now I didn’t take long to awake from my reverie, for that is the variety of instantly invigorating effect that the five-letter word has on its lovers but I did take a few moments to believe the veracity of that utterance. It was as though Giselle Bundchen had said she loved you and as your stunned mind was still digesting this infatuate notification, Megan Fox had followed suit with the same assertion close on Giselle’s heels!
 
Then my senses went on a hunt, perhaps because we weren’t expecting to see another tiger and because he blended so seamlessly with his surroundings, like a brick blends in a wall. So I almost laughed at myself when my brain finally processed the image before us and I read the scene to spot the Chorbehra male cub (then aged 22 months) sitting just beside the road, to the right, hardly fifteen feet away and looking down as though he had been expecting us much in the manner of a passenger waiting for a bus at a road-side bus-stop although I wouldn’t say as cordially as the royalty expects state guests.
 
Even though he looked nothing more than mildly curious, such inquisitiveness befitting his tender age, the very guide who was the engineer of our previous sighting was terribly jittery at his disposition, none-too-emboldened by his body language, cautioned that we could expect a charge at any time, which he did not wish to accrue on his own will. 
 
Somehow I disbelieved this, as the cub didn’t look inclined to aggression by a ream of imaginative writing, but having grown in the jungles, perhaps Ram saw something we couldn’t. Perhaps it was the several puncture wounds on the cub’s flanks, which Ram attributed to the tiger’s previous night’s failed venture to cross a fence. In sum, Ram didn’t want to play the fool with an injured tiger, hence whisked us away betimes before which I had just about enough time to make an image of a tiger in his garden, walking at his pace, smelling the leaves, letting the world be and shunning violence for peace.
 
And the remarkable sojourn had reached a perfect end.  



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