Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2064681-To-tell-a-nights-tale
Printer Friendly Page Tell A Friend
No ratings.
Rated: E · Fiction · Horror/Scary · #2064681
Tiger Tiger....
To tell a night's tale...

It was my first time at Sundarban. A land of mysterious forests, alive with the sound of the wild and splashing of the Bay . I had chosen Sundarban to spend a few days of exploration, stolen from an otherwise busy work life. "Hire a Guide, preferably someone native. " said one of my friends when I revealed my plans to him. And so when I started interviewing Murari for the purpose, I was thrilled to know he was born and brought up here.
"Twenty Seven years spent on the island Dada" he went on with gusto, as the wind played with the waters and my houseboat danced lazily on the ripples.
" My parents used to collect honey. One monsoon my father went out and never returned. Here If someone goes missing, the blame always falls on the tiger. Baghe dhoreche the villagers said. They never found his body. After that my mother made up her mind that I would do something better with my life"

And so he had become a guide. Mastering Hindi and with a somewhat impressive vocabulary of English, he had spent the last seven years introducing eager strangers to the charms and mysteries of the delta.
Three years ago his mother had mysteriously disappeared. Only her remains were found later. She had been a prey to a rogue tiger loose in the village.
Murari had again picked up the pieces of his life, and with Moti , a beautiful Alsatian , moved to a small cottage in a different village.
The driver's son of a forest ranger would teach Murari English. Moti had belonged to the forest ranger's family. The family left Sunder ban after Sarkari Babu got transfer. Moti was still a puppy, he was left behind. Fate had bought him Moti. He had grown to love him as his family. His life again fell apart six months ago. Moti died, after succumbing to the injuries of a tiger attack. Murari however, blames himself.
I was supposed to learn about Subnderban from him. But from what I had learnt about him in a short fifteen minutes, my interest had shifted from Geography to Murari's experiences.

"What happened to Moti? " I asked
Giving an awkward smile Murari began to share his extraordinary story.

"Moti was a good dog. He was a son to me. He was loyal and obedient. Whenever I returned from work during the afternoon, Moti would wait to greet me at the door. And in the morning when I left, he would sit at the door and keep looking at me till I left his sight. One day I got drenched in the rain. Next day when I woke up, my whole body was aching, and I had a horrible headache. Fever soon took over and I covered myself with a bed sheet and didn't leave the bed. Moti was on my bed close to me. He could feel my warm breath and every once in a while looked at me with concern in his eyes. I had to get up, Moti needed his lunch. Drifting in and out of a daze I heard a slight knocking on the door. Perhaps it was a neighbor who had come to check. Painfully dragging myself off the bed I opened the door. No one was there. I returned to my bed, but Moti slipped out the door. I fell into a daze and woke up hours later
When I got up, it was night. I was feeling a bit better so decided to make dinner. The door was open. I went outside and called Moti. After a few unanswered calls, apprehension began to scratch my back. Numb and shaking I walked out the door. After a little while I found him. He was alive but bleeding. A tiger had gotten to him. "

Murari paused for a while. His gaze wandered into the horizon. The wind had calmed down. The boat swayed gently under an anvil sly. Evening was just an hour away.

"In a month, with treatment, his wounds healed. But Moti didn't. Day after day he sat at the corner of the room with a blank stare, moaning. He hardly ate. In just a few weeks he had become shriveled and aged. The light in his eyes was gone. At first he was indifferent to me. But as the days went by he started changing. His blank stare would sometimes be replaced with a ferocious glare
One night a noise woke me up. As I sat up on my bed I found nothing. It was quiet, too quiet. Moti did not sleep on my bed anymore. He would stay at his corner, moaning. I looked at the corner and was about to switch on the light when a chill went down my spine. Moti was staring at me. His eyes were glowing. Like that of a tiger. He wasn't tied up, but he didn't move. He had stopped moaning. In the absolute silence of the night, he just kept staring at me. I had no courage left in me to move or switch on the lights. I don't know for how long, but I kept looking hypnotically at his eyes. As the first light of dawn broke, I fell unconscious. "
I noticed beads of sweat on Murari's forehead. Something inside me was throbbing.
"The next day I tied him up without any resistance. He had stopped eating and sleeping. I could see his life leaving him bit by bit each day. But the weaker he got, the colder his starter became. My concern for him was fighting with my fear of him.
One of my neighbors was very kind. The elderly lady would come to check on us every now and then. She had a grandson named Sanju a bright young boy, around eight or nine years old. He stayed with his family in the city, but every six months came to visit his Dadi . He loved Moti as much as I did, perhaps more. Everyone around knew Moti was sick. I couldn't bear to tell anyone what he had become. I didn't know that myself yet. One day while I was at work Sanju had arrived at his Grandma's house. His first thought was to visit Moti. As she always had an extra key, he unlocked the door and ran in to meet Moti."
It was still, very still. As Murari paused I realized the only noise came from the buzzing crickets and Murari's breathing. As I examined the frail young man sitting in silence before me, a thought crept up my mind. Just a few hours ago he was just a stranger whom I had never met. And now every aspect of my conscious thinking was fiercely focused on him.
"I beat him Dada. I beat Moti with a stick like a mad man. Sanju cried hysterically in his Grandma's arms, more for Moti's sake than out of the pain of his wounds. Moti didn't fight back. His frail skeletal body took the brunt of my beating in silence. As long as I could hear Sanju cry, my hatred for the apparition before me grew even more. I could no longer see Moti in him. After an hour I stopped. Panting for breath, I let him loose. Moti didn't walk or run or bark. He just looked at me one last time with his blood curdling stare and stopped breathing. I killed Moti."

I wanted to console Murari, but the words didn't come out of my mouth. After a heart wrenching sigh Murari resumed his story.

"Life went on. I decided to move and started searching for another place in a nearby village. Poor don't have the luxury of spending time to grieve; we have to get back in the fight as soon as we can. I learned that from my mother when I was a boy. Just a week after my father went missing, she had started collecting honey again. Soon I found a new companion. One of my old friends, the driver's son, sold me his old bicycle. The bike carried me to near and far, strange and familiar places. It was better, better than a family or a dog. A t least It wouldn't get eaten up by a tiger. People who knew me warned me not to venture too much at dusk. 'When the water is calm and the sky is cloudy, be on your toes, a tiger may be lurking', that's the common conception here.
My life has been shaped again and again by tigers. Yet strangely I had lived a better part of my life not catching a glimpse of one. Till one evening a week back, everything changed. I had found a small place in nearby village and so had slowly started moving my belongings there. By the time I finished moving all my stuff, it was almost dusk. I couldn't sleep well at my old place, so decided to spend my first night at my new home. And so at close to nightfall I took my bike and said goodbye to my old home and to all my memories of Moti.
As I paddled through the dim muddy road, I was sweating. It was very hot and humid, just like now, with not even a whiff of wind. I stopped to catch my breath for a while. As I got on my bike I had this annoying feeling someone was watching me. Could be a stray jackal, I said to myself. The thought of a tiger didn't cross my mind; I wasn't close to any water body. I heard a soft moan and every fiber of my body just froze in an instant. It was a very familiar moaning. As I looked behind a pair of desperate, glowing eyes pierced into mine. Moti, he was coming for me, dragging limping he was approaching me. I started paddling as fast as I could, but every time I looked back, Moti was just a little bit closer. I couldn't outrun him. With every last breath I paddled, eventually I lost control and fell over.

"I looked back, and Moti wasn't there. Was my tired mind playing tricks on me? What I saw next had to be the Master trick. I was now standing at the doorstep of my old home, shivering with fever and a bed sheet wrapped around me. I had opened the door and Moti had slipped out wagging his tail. I was watching silently as a Tiger stealthily walked out of the shades of a nearby Cowshed and grabbed Moti by the neck and dragged him away. Without any strength left in me to remain standing I slowly sat down by the door. I wanted to scream. But I couldn't. After a few moments Moti walked out of the cowshed, his neck bleeding. He came up to me and looked into my eyes. Strangely, I wasn't scared anymore. My time had come. "
I should complement Murari on his ability to draw the audience's attention. The way he narrated his story was very convincing. At the end of his story, Murari had looked back at me. I realized what he meant by the ferocious stare in Moti's eyes, as I saw it in his. Strangely, I wasn't scared anymore. My time had come too.

Now I am free. My week long vacation at Sunderban has been extended indefinitely. I never went back to my old job. I never went back to being alive.

© Copyright 2015 MyStory (memyself at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
Writing.Com, its affiliates and syndicates have been granted non-exclusive rights to display this work.
Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2064681-To-tell-a-nights-tale