Is there a reason you chose to get a tiger tattoo?
I love cats, big or small. Any time my family visited any animal sanctuaries, I was only ever interested in seeing the cats. The first time I saw a panther I felt like my life is complete, although I was only 12 at the time.
Ritika Jain, 23
From Rajasthan/Madhya Pradesh
Recited the story in their mothertongue, Hindi
This story is from my grandfather’s grandfather’s grandfather’s time. This is a story from a small village called Kishangarh, which was about 40 kilometres away from Ajmer. Back then, it was four houses and a jungle, only 10-15 people lived there. There was no town nearby, there was only mountains and farms. These areas near the village were inhabited by a lot of tigers, and the village dwellers were aware of this. When they first started living in Kishangarh, they knew they were living on someone else’s land, its not their own. They knew that the land belonged to the jungle and its animals.
For many years, people lived peacefully away from the animals. They never tried to kill them, never fought with them. The village dwellers and the animals both let each other be.
However, many times, the people would go into the Jungle looking for medicinal herbs and roots. In the village, there was a family of four, a father and three kids – two sons and a daughter. In this family, the boys and girls were treated equally, never differentiated. The daughter was never barred from going to the jungle or learning how to farm. She was very smart; she knew how to keep herself safe. One time the siblings went into the jungle. It doesn’t rain much in Ajmer – its incredibly rare. The day that they were in the jungle, it started raining really hard. There is a saying that says when it rains in a farm, it rains enough for the whole year. The kids panicked, but the daughter knew how to track in the jungle. She could recognise what animals had taken what path and was confident that she can guide them to safety. Maybe not home, but definitely to safety. In the rain, however, they landed in a place where tigers lurk. They knew of the harm tigers could cause them, so they decided to leave behind any weapons that may make them look like a threat to a tiger.
They kept walking and encountered a tiger. It was just sitting, doing nothing. The kids however were scared that if they moved too fast or too slow, the tiger might attack them. As they were wondering what to do, the daughter thought to herself “I feed and play with my neighbour’s cat every day, so if such a small cat can have such a kind heart, who am I to decide that a bigger cat will only attack me?” She decided that if its her time to die, she might as well see for herself what is so scary about a tiger. She slowly took one step closer to the tiger. Her brothers took one step back. The tiger growled at her, but she kept slowly inching closer to the tiger. 10-15 minutes later, the tiger let her touch him. He sat calmly, and nobody was hurt. In the end, the three kids returned home along with the tiger.
When people saw the kids and the beast walking calmly together, people realised they were wrong to think of it as only a ferocious animal. That day for the first time, the barrier between the animals and the humans reduced, the jungle did not seem as scary anymore. They learnt that if they treat animals with love, the animals may also return the favour.
I’ve heard this story many times when I was younger from my father.