Now that the weekend is over, and Monday Morning Blues threatens your blood sugar, heart beat, pulse rate, eosinophil count and other critical health indicators, perhaps you may wish to rejuvenate yourself by reading this account of how my friend’s uncle saved himself from an even more critical life-threatening condition. You and I have the advantages of modern medicine to help us through a crisis; this poor shikari had none. If you wish to know how all this panned out, read on.
This uncle – I had told you in an earlier post that my friend the storyteller is blessed with a large number of uncles, like Bertie Wooster is blessed with a platoon of aunts – anyways, this uncle had once gone to the Sunderbans after the Puja holidays. He had been invited by the State Forestry Department to check the condition of the mangroves and the womangroves (if there are mangroves, there have to be womangroves too – otherwise how will their baby mangroves? stands to reason), so he had not equipped himself with guns and other firearms. In any event, his hunting days were over, he felt – and like his hero, Jim Corbett, he had exchanged his guns for some heavy duty cameras and lenses, for wildlife photography had now become his passion.
His trip was at an end, and next morning, he would take the boat up the river and get back to Kolkata. So, late in the afternoon, he took a solitary walk through the jungle along the river. The mist slowly settling on the river; the water still as a mirror shining in the setting sun; the shoots of the young trees sticking out of the mud and the water like the slalom posts of some imaginary race; the dark green leaves shot with gold, the soft calls of the river birds…he must come again in the winter, he thought. He loved the Sunderbans throughout the year, but winter made her really really beautiful, just like the statues of Bonbibi at peace with the world, before she became angry at the depradations of Dakkhin-rai.
It was time to return to his dak bungalow. He turned around – and there was Dakkhin-Rai, about a couple of hundred yards behind him, in the shape of a large male tiger. The tiger looked vicious, with severe malintent towards the person of the uncle. The famous shikari could hear the tiger muttering beneath his breath – being such an expert on all matters tigerish, he could even translate some of them into human language. (I shall not attempt to post some of these comments here – there may be a few delicately nurtured readers among the dozen or so who read this, and I do not wish to sully their alabaster ears with tiger curses. All you need to know is that mc, bc etc is pure beginner stuff compared to what the tiger was saying).
The tiger continued to advance towards the uncle with malice aforethought, while the uncle was rapidly formulating a way of escape from what promised to be a rather sticky end. He had not brought his guns, not even a knife; while his camera equipment were all inside the dak bungalow, the trusty heavy-duty tripod might have been a big boon – but that was also inside the bungalow. No, he would have to depend on his wits alone.
He stood firm and waited. The tiger came up to within ten yards, sat on it haunches and slowly crept into position for the final charge and leap. He furiously lashed his tail; he pushed out and pulled back his talons, to make sure that all systems were go. And he pulled back on his haunches – the attack would be launched any moment now.
The uncle chose this very moment to unleash his own attack. “Bajjat!” he said. “Paaji! haar haram jada!!” he said. “Nirlojjo! behaya!” he said. The tiger stopped at this full frontal attack. While he (the tiger) was considering his next move, came the next wave of missiles from the uncle. “You shameless creature! How dare you come out like this into civilisation! Your mother taught you nothing – I can see that! How many times as a child were you told about proper behaviour with strangers? How many times? Answer me – come on, tell me. It’s no use muttering that you are a wild animal. Bad excuse! And, inspite of all that training, now you come out in the nude??? not ever an underwear??? not even a chaddi???”
The tiger froze, and the uncle, with his keen eyesight, could make out the mantle of the deepest blush that covered the tiger’s face and head. The tiger looked at his private parts – sure enough, the old shikari was right!
With a pained apologetic look, the beast bowed his head in shame, and with one bound, ran into the deepest part of the forest, far from where he would encounter humans in his state of total nudity and extreme shame.
[For the uninitiated, some translations may be of use. So here they are:
bajjat – wicked, naughty, mischievous
paaji – scoundrel, villain, knave, rascal
haar haramjada – wretch, bastard, scoundrel – bred thus in the bone
nirlojjo – shameless, impudent, brazen, indecent, immodest
behaya – saucy, cheeky, shameless
Hope this helps.]