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SHORT STORY: THE MAGNUM OPUS OF LORD GOD

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    There was once a ferocious tiger who lived in a dense jungle. He often killed animals whenever he was hungry. He used to attack helpless animals from behind the bushes and used to throttle them to death at the very next instant. At times he even killed them when he was hungry by chasing them down. And he took great pride in doing so, as apart from the feeling of being all too powerful, it also satiated his hunger. He considered the grazing animals to be his sole property, gifted to him by God almighty to overcome his hunger. Since animals were aplenty in the jungle there was no dearth of food for the tiger. So with the brute strength of the paws that he possessed, high status in the jungle society and plenty of cuisines to choose from he was having but a ball of a time in his life.

    Contrasting the tiger’s life was a cow there who used to graze the same old grass day in and day out. And he perhaps had done that for as many years as the tiger had hunted animals. Once it so happened that the tiger had not hunted any animal for a couple of days now. The spicy news first reached the hyenas who hadn’t got the meal leftovers from the tiger’s kill for some time now. Soon the hyenas set up a committee to check what was happening at the tiger’s den. They sent a team of two to discreetly find out what had happened to the tiger and why it hadn’t hunted for some days now. The hyenas found that the tiger was limping. He had a wound on his front paw, because of which he couldn’t even walk in the usual manner, forget hunting. The hyenas knew that a wounded tiger is much more dangerous than a normal one so they didn’t dare to get close to him and saw him only from a distance. But upon seeing the hyenas the ailing tiger roared in pain and hunger because he wanted help.

     Over the next few days, the tiger didn’t get anything to eat. He was in deep agony so he couldn’t hunt. The cow in the meantime kept grazing the fields as usual. By now the news had spread around that the tiger was injured and therefore not in a position to hunt so the animals were at ease. On the other hand, the tiger was hoping against hope that the hyenas whom he had fed for such a long time with the leftovers of his kills would come to his rescue with some flesh for him to devour as a kind gesture. But alas that didn’t happen as the hyenas knew about the danger of going close to a wounded tiger. In the meanwhile, a peacock who was perched there with his partner on the tree above the tiger’s den was observing the tiger’s paw. It had a thorn stuck in it and that had created a wound. Seeing the spiritless tiger the merciful peacock took flight and dared to land close to the tiger and after a bit of duel, he pulled out the thorn from the paw of the tiger with his beak. This relieved the tiger almost immediately when the peacock in a flash thought the tiger would thank him. But instead of that in a desperate reflex, the tiger actually attacked the peacock with the other paw and devoured him to extinguish his hunger. On seeing this the partner of the peacock screamed but in vain. The old cow who was watching the obnoxious behaviour of the tiger from behind the bushes retreated fast thinking she could be the next target of the tiger.

But after this episode, the tiger was on guard. For he had come to know of the downsides of hunting where you had to be as fit as a fiddle, always, if you wanted to eat animal flesh. Whereas grazing was effortless when compared to hunting, as the grass was provided by none other than mother earth, thought the tiger.

    After a few years, the tiger had really grown old and so had the cow.  The tiger had often started missing his meals because of his age as he couldn’t hunt anymore, and without hunting, there wasn’t any food. But the hyenas still kept coming to him for the leftovers whenever there was one. The cow on the other hand had grown old too but had no problems connecting to his food which was simply grazing on the fields. One day when the cow was passing through the tiger’s den, he saw the old and feeble tiger lying without food. He asked ‘How’s life big brother?’ The tiger replied, ‘quite miserable without any flesh to eat. But how about you?’ The cow replied ‘Well, I’m pulling along with my evergreen grass.’

    The tiger said, ‘well I had to fight for each morsel of mine in my life, whereas, you got yours on a ready-made platter. Lucky you.’ ‘Yes, you hunted the moving animals all your life and I ate the stationery grass so the fight had to be there for you.’ Replied the cow. ‘And the green grass gave milk to everyone which even I tasted when I killed a cow once.’ Summed up the tiger.

    After a few days, the partner of the devoured peacock approached the cow to inform her that the tiger had passed away on account of hunger. He had died a horrific death. Towards the end, no animal not even the hyenas came forward to offer themselves to the starving tiger to save his life from hunger. Nor did they get any flesh for him to eat. Even his kith and kin deserted him at this very crucial moment of his life, informed the peacock. The cow looked at the lush green field that was full of grass and remembered the tiger. No matter how powerful you are you can’t be more powerful than the time—the tiger’s time was up because he had grown old because of which he couldn’t hunt animals anymore and had died of starvation but that was not the case with him, thought the cow. A few years later the cow too left the world but not because of hunger but of old age.

     Moral of the story: How did you feel about the ghastly end of the tiger? Sympathetic, indifferent or did you think that he deserved it because he had mercilessly killed innocent animals all his life? And what did Lord God think of, while creating this magnificent beast called tiger? Well, some questions don’t have straight answers. The best is to leave the magnum opus of God to him only. But yes, the famous lines describe Lord God the best:

All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful,
The Lord God made them all.

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By Kamlesh Tripathi

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https://kamleshsujata.wordpress.com

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