Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Tiger of Wayanad

Image Courtesy: Google
Wayanad is the third in the column of fourteen districts that form the state of Kerala, located between Calicut and Western Ghats, if counted from North. Wayanad is famous for its coffee beans, paddy fields, tea estates, the hills, forest, valleys and streams. Wayanad is notorious for farmer suicides, as well. There had been another diabolic issue, for the past one month that the district was notoriously conspicuous in the news media for—a tiger. On the second of December 2012, the Forest Guardians shot it dead.

Tyger Tyger, burning bright,
In the forests of the night;
What immortal hand or eye,
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

There is a story behind it. It had been one month; the news of a tiger roaming free in the residential areas in Wayanad had been celebrated and anticipated along with each morning’s cozy tea in each household outside Wayanad, throughout Kerala. There was nothing literally sarcastic about the celebration of this news either. The tiger had taken lots of cattle. People were living in constant agony between life and death. The news slowly ceased to become just news and became a wild fire of political and social movement. People came out to streets in protest against the cold attitude of the government towards letting the tiger wander without restrictions in areas where people lived and on farmlands. Then one day, just like a dew drop condenses into moisture at the end of a grape vine, the struggle of the people forced the government to take a decision.

In what distant deeps or skies.
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand, dare seize the fire?

The authorities of the Forest Protection brought a cage and trapped the tiger one fine morning and declared the terror of the tiger over. It was a momentous feat. The event was so meaningful for the people of Wayanad and the atmosphere was tense, that if someone had said that the tiger had entered the cage on its own discretion finding it a potential chance to go back home to the forest to rejoin with its family and friends, he would have been burnt on a stake. The tiger was let loose in an area in the forest, where it could take a breath or two from the nearby village and the authorities deemed that it would greatly please the tiger. It could meet its family and can take a stroll on the borders of the forest occasionally. However, like they say in ancient Indian philosophical discourses, to read someone’s mind is like getting a respectable position for a toilet paper or the water tap in the toilet (in these parts, people mostly use water for those purposes. Cultural difference). This adage had a pretty decent wording than what I have written here. It seems the adage originally goes like this; “No invention had been made yet, to read the other’s mind!” No one could read the tiger’s mind, either.

And what shoulder, & what art,
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? & what dread feet?
The next day, some farmers said they saw the tiger near a house. Everyone, including the newspapers thought the farmers were lying, in the attempt of harvesting public attention when such things as suicidal notes or un-paid bank loans didn’t work in such a bend of things. How could this be possible? The Forest Guardians had executed such an intelligent and scientific plan for the rehabilitation of the son of forest, the tiger. Truth, as they say, is very much like the sun. It burns. A burning truth pounced upon the world soon. Cattles started to be ambushed in the dark of the night. And soon, the world realized the elegance of the plan laid by the Forest Guardians to safeguard the tiger as well as the people population, miserably failed.

What the hammer? what the chain,
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp,
Dare its deadly terrors clasp!

Some remarked, alas, the tiger is too primitive to understand the excellence and diligence of their plans and its importance for the civilized world. The people of Wayanad came to streets again. They cordoned off the roads that connect Wayanad and Calicut. The centres of the major cities in the district saw similar protests too. The Chief Minister came, at last for his routine visit. There was only one slogan, one mantra among the people and then subsequently in the media, and that was: kill the tiger, because it killed our cattle and caused us panic. The chief minister agreed and asserted that justice would be done. Let there be a cat for a cattle—a giant cat, the tiger! It was no fun. A search party was announced once again and sent for the mission of recapturing the pride of the government. In fact, the tiger issue, according to some news papers and television channels, was a disgrace to the governmental claim that we all march forward to development and march with integrity. The free roaming of the tiger had questioned something, perhaps development or political integrity or freedom. It caused the whole society of Wayanad to sit and plot against the intoxicating freedom the creature was enjoying, just like they would have done in tethering the individuals, who seldom obeyed the political fat cats and engineers of false morality.

When the stars threw down their spears
And water'd heaven with their tears:
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?

Inspired by the earlier Forest Guardians and their tales of excellence, the present team of experts brought with them no cage at all. If there was no cage, how could the tiger break the cage, or even think about it! They were two men. They were a team and had two guns—one loaded with a sedating bullet and the other with a real bullet, to kill. Some newspapers even said they indeed brought a cage, but the tiger, being as uncivilized as it was, never ventured itself into it. Finally, due to the roar of excitement by the people who surrounded the area of operation or the treachery of its fate, the tiger was scared and cornered in a banana plantation. A human wall trapped the tiger inside with people screaming and shouting in a ring formation. The sedatives were fired twice. But the two rounds of sedatives did not do much benefit to build peace for the place. The tiger still stood fully awake, and it roared. As said by great philosophers, there is no gadget to read minds, or else the tiger’s mind could have been an interesting subject for study. It should not have begged for life, of course. But what might it have thought, just after being hit by the sedatives? The tiger bared its fangs and prepared for its final response for the call of the hunters. The tiger extended its right leg forward. He must have been a good fighter. The Guardians made their choice, at the spur of that moment, when the son of jungle met the arrogance of the sons of Eve, the scientifically precise, logically accurate and reasonably just bullet was fired. The tiger died. The promises of the politicians were kept. The thirst of the people for vengeance was quelled.  

Tyger Tyger burning bright,
In the forests of the night:
What immortal hand or eye,
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?
Image Courtesy: Google

That ends the story.

Courtesy: The tiger of Wayanad and William Blake, for his poem “The Tyger”, 1794. 


A said...

Tigers and humans don't mix well (well, from a human viewpoint anyway) so this is probably for the best. Your post is so interesting, Kerala, the tiger, the poem, the whole story.

Anu Lal said...

Thank you Agnes! Hoping you are having a great time. Have you ever visited Kerala?

sarath said...


I myself was/is in a dilemma over the issue. All these cry for environmental protection and concerns for extinct animals, I could barely support the hunt. Whereas, no environmentalists can protect the people from the tiger. After all, the entire world is created by the Lord for humans!!!

Anu Lal said...

You got the irony my dear friend! ;)