An obstinate old man and an obstinate old tiger (Part-III)[Continued from An obstinate old man and an obstinate old tiger (Part-II)]
The small Gond village was at the bank of Harhad river near Satkoshia Gond. The Studebaker car slowly reached the village at around 9.30 a.m. Getting down from the car, Mongru ran towards his home. His mother was very happy at his unexpected arrival. The old man got down and met the old Gaonburha (village headman). He talked to the Gaonburha, handed over scented tobacco and requested him to arrange his lunch. Despite repeated requests from the villagers to share their home, the old man set up his tent just beside the river.
From the top of the hill, the tiger watched everything. The arrival of the car and the tent were noted by him. The old man arrived…! Tonight he would visit him. Why did the old man with white beard come to the village after such a long time? He started feeling happy but tensed. After a long time someone came to meet him. A real man came to meet a real tiger!
The sun was setting. Evening was slowly arriving in the forest. The silence of the forest was broken by the chirping of thousands of birds. The old man was quietly sitting on the bank of Harhad. Many thoughts were coming to his mind. His wife had come to visit him when he had been working in the nearby cement factory as security supervisor. Unfortunately, within a week she had fallen ill. Malignant malaria-the curse of Indian forest.
The tiger had created a reign of terror in the surrounding areas. A female tiger had been killed by a hunter. Her companion (the tiger) had killed the hunter the same night, but did not touch the body. The angry tiger had also killed the manager of the cement factory, who had been trying to kill him. No truck, no jeep used to come to that place. The drivers avoided the entire Satkoshia Gond. The old man had not been able to take his wife to the hospital. She had breathed her last in this Gond village.
At night, the old man went back to the tent. He slept peacefully with the trusted rifle beside him.
The tiger came down from his cave. He slowly crossed Harhad river. Reaching this bank, he waited patiently. Carefully checking the surrounding areas, he started moving around the tent. He could hear the old man sleeping inside the tent.
Suddenly he stopped. He could no longer hear the sound of deep breathing. He took cover behind a bush. The old man came out with the rifle in his hand. Very carefully he examined the field. He saw the pug-marks of the tiger.
The old man muttered to himself: "Bah! What a tiger!"
[......To be continued: An obstinate old man and an obstinate old tiger (Part-IV)]