Stories

A Lesson in The Wild [SHORT STORY]

asian tiger forest
Written by Madhu Bairy

Time had stood still. We were looking right through each other’s eyes. No one dared to make a move. Silence prevailed around us like cold death waiting to attack. We had gone numb, even our minds were unwilling to think of a plan. One wrong move and we would never be seen alive.

The tiger was surprisingly huge. It seemed powerful enough to kill all three of us with a swift attack from its paws. It bent low as if getting ready to make us its meal for the night. A slow, menacing growl emanated from it as it looked at us with its burning eyes.

Unfolding the journey back

Raj was reluctant and adamant against crossing the gate. A broken board near the gate read TIGER TRAIL: DO NOT TRESPASS. But, Rohit and I were excited beyond bounds and equally adamant of experiencing an adventurous trek in the dense jungle of Western Ghats.

It was I who had planned the trek. Rohit and Raj had echoed my intentions excitedly. Raj had quickly arranged for a terrain jeep with all the necessary equipment for camping. After an hour-long discussion, we had decided upon a forest in the Western Ghats region. It was an unplanned trip and we were very much excited about the experiences of the wild. But, little did we know that it would be the one we would never forget.

The expedition ride began with Rohit taking the driver’s seat. It was decided that he would drive till we reached the border of the forest. I would then drive them inside and we would leave the next morning with Raj behind the wheels.

The journey was a chaotic one, filled with chattering and making fun of each other. It was a hectic seven hours ride from the city and we had to exchange the driver’s seat constantly, forgetting our earlier driving arrangements.

It was getting dark and soon the only light that illuminated the dusty road radiating from our vehicle. The drive became more rough and dusty and the road began to converge into dense foliage. We had finally managed to reach our destination, but the real adventure was yet to begin.

The fun and frolic soon dissolved into the surrounding silence. The ambience was active with myriad sounds of varying resonances ranging from constant buzzing, chirping and whining of insects to the distant howling and hooting of wild animals. A bit of apprehension and fear filled our minds and we began to drive cautiously on the jungle path. I asked Raj to dim the lights and drive slowly so as to stay away from crossing our paths with the wild beasts. Raj was driving very slowly with Rohit and me keeping a close guard of the surroundings. The constant humming of the engine seemed to disrupt the peace of the wildlife at night.

We were, probably the most foolish trekkers ever to drive an open jeep in a hostile environment without an expert help by our side. Nevertheless, we moved on playing the blame game in our minds.

The trek was an unplanned one. But, it was so unplanned that we had no plan of action. We had no clue that we were now driving in the region of the forest that was prohibited for trespassing by the Forest Department.

It looked like our good luck and happy moments had run out. Our jeep came to an abrupt halt and the dense smoke escaping out of the bonnet had blocked our way ahead. Raj cursed under his breath and hit his palm on the steering wheel in despair. Rohit and I got out of the jeep and tried to clear the smoke. It was as though we were starring in the opening scene of a thriller movie.

There was no other option but to search for a water source. Raj took out a big can and started to walk in a random direction. Our foolishness continued as we trailed him unceremoniously.

The Tiger Trail

It was then that we stumbled upon a narrow path that led us to the fateful gate. No sooner we saw the prospect of catching a glimpse of the majestic tiger, we forgot everything else. Raj was totally against crossing the gate, let alone stride any further.

We had already trespassed every barrier laid out by the forest officials. Rohit and I smiled to each other and began climbing the gate, taking no heed to Raj’s pleadings and warnings. He had no other option but to follow us, which he did hastily.

Rohit had saved the charge of his mobile phone battery and we put it to good use as we walked cautiously along the unknown territory of tigers. We felt like preys walking towards the predator.

A low growl made us halt abruptly. We held each other’s hand in nervous anticipation as we heard the rustle of dry leaves being crushed due to movement. Our hearts began to pound harder as we saw a pair of twinkling eyes in front of us. We knew that our final moment had arrived.

Time had stood still. We were looking right through each other’s eyes. No one dared to make a move. Silence prevailed around us like cold death waiting to attack. We had gone numb, even our minds were unwilling to think of a plan. One wrong move and we would never be seen alive.

The tiger was surprisingly huge. It seemed powerful enough to kill all three of us with a swift attack from its paws. It bent low as if getting ready to make us its meal for the night. A slow, menacing growl emanated from it as it looked at us with its burning eyes.

I cannot fathom even to this day the events that transpired later. The tiger could have attacked us that very moment. But, I guess it had something else in its mind. Raising its head upwards, it gave a wild roar. Looking at us for a brief moment it walked away slowly with a growl that probably hinted dissatisfaction.

The Next Morning

We were lucky enough to have survived the wrath of the wild cat without a scratch. We spent the remaining night in an anxious semi-sleepy state in our jeep until a forest patrol jeep spotted us.

The officials reprimanded us for having violated the rules and breaching the danger zone. Mr. Shetty, the Senior Officer’s words still ring in my ears,

“We humans take everything for granted. We violate rules, exploit nature and blame the wildlife for attacks on us. Do we even realize we are the predators and not they?

Imagine what you would do if someone trespasses your home or your property. Do you welcome them with refreshments or attack them to safeguard everything that belongs to you?

We come across news and headlines of endangered species and extinct wildlife. Don’t you think we humans are the only ones to be held responsible for the sorry state of wildlife?

Conservation should not be a matter of mere words; it must be initiated through actions. I hope this lesson from the wild has taught you the importance of respecting the heritage of our wildlife.”

We were lucky the second time to have escaped the disciplinary actions by the good officer. It was a fitting ending to our failed trek, but we did learn a valuable lesson from the wild in the process.

Read more Short Stories here.

About the author

Madhu Bairy

I am a resident of Bangalore and a native of Kundapur. A self-confessed book worm, I always found any activity that involved reading and writing interesting apart from my academics. Reading is something that came quite naturally since my schooling days and that continued to grow over the years.
Writing to me is not a hobby, but something that I pursue passionately. A graduate in Textile Technology and a designer by profession, I find writing as an effective medium to convey my thoughts and opinions on anything and everything.

Leave a Comment

error: Content is protected !!