“The Naughty Tiger”
In every country around the world, mothers and grandmothers tell their children stories. Bangladesh is no exception. I remember each evening we children would surround our grandmother, and she would tell us tales. Sometimes she would tell tiger or bear stories; at other times, she would tell stories about a clever jackal. These stories are told in every home in Bangladesh. So sit back now and enjoy the story of the naughty tiger:
Long ago, in a country not far away, a famous maharaja lived. He was famous because of his strange hobbies; he gathered and raised unusual breeds of animals. Then one day, he decided on another project: He now wanted these animals to talk.
He called for his government minister. “Issue an invitation to the wisest men in the world. I want them to come teach these animals to speak.”
The minister shook with fear, yet answered, “Maharaj, how is such a feat possible?”
But the king brushed aside his misgivings. “I don’t wish to hear your doubts. Just call the experts.”
The government minister sent messengers to countries far and wide, and indeed ten experts came. After intense training, they taught five animals to speak. The maharaja was thrilled. He lavishly rewarded the experts and then invited kings from around the world to see the marvel. As the celebration began, the king placed the talking tiger in a golden cage at the gate of his palace.
Everyone who approached the palace was greeted by the tiger. “Nomoskar!” the tiger would welcome them. “Please open the door of this cage a bit.” Visitors were naturally amazed, but out of fear, no one was willing to open the door.
Then a simple, worthy Brahmin came to the celebration. He was truly a good man, and the tiger acknowledged it by repeatedly bowing as the Brahmin walked up the path.
Again, the tiger spoke, “Dear Grandfather, please open the door of this cage a bit. I have been in this cage for so many days now. Let me go play in the field for a while.” The Brahmin was such a nice man, he thought that indeed the tiger had endured a lot being caged like this. So he quickly opened the cage door.
Immediately the tiger leaped out, bowed before the old Brahmin and snarled, “Well, Grandfather, now I get to eat you!”
Shocked, the Brahmin replied, “What are you thinking?! I just was kind to you and set you free from your cage and yet you say you are going to eat me? This behavior is absolutely wrong.”
“Why is that?” the tiger scoffed. “Everyone acts like this.”
“Impossible!” the Brahmin said. “It cannot be! Ask two witnesses and see what they say.”
“Alright,” the tiger conceded. “If the witnesses agree with you, I will let you go. But if they agree with me, I will certainly eat you up!”
The Brahmin and the tiger walked into the field. A huge banyan tree stood in the center of the field.
Tree“That tree will be my first witness,” the Brahmin said.
“Fine,” the tiger agreed. “Ask the tree.”
“Brother Banyan,” the Brahmin asked, “if I do good to someone, can he harm me?”
The banyan sighed. “That happens, Grandfather. Look at me. I am the only tree in this field. In times of intense sunlight, I offer shade to people. I shelter them from the heat. In response, they cut my branches and steal my leaves to feed to their cows and goats.”
Laughing, the tiger licked his chops. “Grandfather, listen carefully to your witness.”
“But I will ask another witness,” the Brahmin said. In the tree, a songbird chirped.
“Ask him,” the tiger said.
The Brahmin called up into the tree, “Oh Brother Bird, if I do good to someone, can he harm me?”
The bird nodded his head. “That happens, Grandfather. Look at me. I sing lovely songs all day long and cheer people. At the end of the monsoons, think of all the pesky bugs I eat. I rescue people from so many troubles. Yet they will kill me.”
By now, the tiger was extremely pleased. He chuckled, “Grandfather, what do you say now?”
The Brahmin pleaded,, “Let me ask one last witness.”
Confidently, the tiger agreed. “Certainly, ask whomever you want.”
Just then, a jackal came strolling down the road. The Brahmin stepped forward. “There! He’s my final witness.”
He called to Uncle Jackal. “Oh wise Jackal, you are my witness. Please tell us: If I do good to someone, can he harm me?”
The jackal turned quizzical eyes on the Brahmin. “What is that, Grandfather? Speak more clearly. Explain what you are talking about. If you do not, I will not understand you.”
The Brahmin carefully rehearsed the event. “I was walking into the palace lawns and this tiger was trapped in a golden cage. He asked…”
Hearing the story, the jackal said, “I think this is a extremely difficult matter. If I do not see the palace road and cage, I really cannot say.”
So the three of them returned to the cage. “Oh,” the jackal exclaimed. “Now, seeing it all, I will be able to understand. Tell me again, what happened?”
The Brahmin repeated, “I was approaching the maharaja’s palace, and the tiger was in the cage.”
The jackal smiled with assurance. “Ah yes, this time I understand. You were in the cage, and Uncle Tiger sat on the path. Then…”
The tiger jumped up in disgust. “Uncle Jackal, you are incredibly stupid! I was in the cage.”
The jackal said, “No, no, Uncle Tiger. This is such a tough case, that the facts are not entering my head easily.”
The tiger angrily shouted, “What a problem! I did not realize just how stupid you are! This is a simple matter, and you cannot understand it. Look where I was.” The tiger stalked into the cage. And at that moment, the jackal slammed the cage door shut.
“Ah, yes,” the jackal said. “Grandfather, this time I understand it all. The tiger’s words were correct. If you help a bad person, he will harm you. Grandfather, you are a good man and wise. Be careful of naughty people like Uncle Tiger. In this world there are many like him, and they can harm you.”
Then the wise jackal turned to the tiger. “So Uncle Tiger, I am stupid, but what are you?” And laughing, he strolled away.
Afroza Akhter Tina
Department of English, DIU