My name is Vijay. I am a murderer.
I have been caged inside these walls since I was born 7 years ago. The “natural” surroundings around me comprises of a concrete wall that ensures I do not leave this place. The area is covered with lush green shrubs, bushes and trees. Between the wall and my “home”, lies a moat. It was here I committed the deed.
I have been an object of amusement and admiration since I have been here. Thousands of living organisms, belonging to human species, come to gaze at the “fearful symmetry” of my body. I am admired for my blue eyes by some, while some compliment the majestic white color tone of my fur. Some are awestruck by my size, while some gloat over the dark brown stripes over my body. I do not enjoy being disturbed in my sleep by unwelcoming faces who stare down at me to pass judgments.
Some younger human species find it amusing to throw water at me, while some work with stones, sticks and leaves. Some throw garbage through the wall. It ruins the surrounding of the area in which I live, but hey, who cares! Some younglings, in their shrill human voice, try to roar like me to catch my attention. They fail miserably. I find it terribly annoying.
At times, I wish I could communicate my emotions to the much assumed “most intelligent” living species. They really need to stop annoying me.
I have been “trained” here by some homo sapiens who claim to be an expert on my species. This training basically involves teaching me how to survive in a habitat which is obviously not one I was meant to live in. They have taught me how to hunt for my food, of how I need to be awake and roaming around when there are larger crowds. But now I am sure they wish that they have taught me to be a little gentler. It’s hard to find a tranquilizer or nets or sticks every time you need for me to do something as per your instructions, mate.
I’d be honest. I feel lucky that I have lived all my life inside these “safely guarded” cages. I have heard rumors of the war between my species and human species.
I have heard that my kind is losing the battle so far. At times I wonder this might be the reason why there are not many of my kind alongside me. The negative aspect of this is that I feel really lonely at times. The positive side is that I feel safe here. And so far, everyone was safe from me.
But that morning, everything changed. Someone crossed the lines they should not have. It would be a lie to say that I intended to do what I did. But it would be a lie too to say that I did not enjoy what happened. For 7 years, I kept all my emotions, my anger, my sorrows, my loneliness… everything I have ever felt, inside of me. For once, I let it all go. For once, I felt free. For once, I gave a harsh reply back to those who have tormented me, each day, since last 7 years.
I was just strolling around my “home”, as usual ignoring the regular human comments and pointing fingers. It was supposed to be a regular day. Just sleeping, strolling, eating and then again sleeping. I was looking at the humans who were standing above the wall staring down at me when suddenly, something that never happened before, happened.
I saw a human being sitting down staring at me in the narrow moat. His eyes were filled with reverence towards me. I went closer to him to look at his eyes. He was not scared of me. He was rather in awe. He was constantly folding his hands and chanting something. I felt he was praying to me.
I liked that kind of attention, I’d be honest. I have been alone here for so long that it was nice to have a company that was here, not to train me, not to whip me, not to sedate me, but maybe to worship me.
I looked at him for a long time. After a while, I was overwhelmed with the attention. So I tried telling him to put down his hands. All these years, I was treated as someone below the mighty Homo sapiens.
Today was the first time someone put me on a pedestal and was worshiping me. I suddenly felt flattered. But then, I felt exposed. It was the first moment of my interaction with humans that I enjoyed. But I wanted us to be equals. The man sitting there could have been my friend. I did not wish him to feel what I’ve felt for years because of me.
“Thud!” it happened. A stone came and hit my torso. I have thick skin, but still it hurt. My mind was suddenly diverted. I started hearing shouts and screams of people around me who were yelling at me and calling me towards them. “Thud, Thud, Thud!” The stones, bamboo sticks were coming down at me at regular intervals. I felt angry.
I felt they were trying to break the connection that was established between me and the man. I suddenly saw the expressions on the face of the man. He was looking down at me completely shaking with fear. I realized that I have failed miserably in my attempts to establish equality with the man. I realized that the war between man and tiger is never going to get over. Humans are too proud and selfish to put us animals on the same pedestal as they are on.
Suddenly, I felt insecure. I knew if I leave the man alone, he would be gone forever. I did not wish for him to leave. Even though all my aspirations were false, for 15 minutes, me and him shared an emotional connect; a bond such like that I have never felt. The stones, the screams, the name calls, the angry jipes… I could not take them anymore. It was time to end the show. And I did it.
I pounced on the man. And I carried him along with me. It was the perfect anticlimax to perhaps, the most wonderful day of my life. Now no can separate us.
Suddenly, I am the one all humans fear. I am locked inside. I am not being allowed to go out in the open. Now, I am on the pedestal I never wished to be.
I am Vijay. I am a murderer. But I never wished to be.
By: Karan Prashant Saxena
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