The Tiger King
Before you read
What is the general attitude of human beings towards wild animals? THE Maharaja of Pratibandapuram is the hero of this story. He may be identified as His Highness Jamedar -General, Khiledar-Major, Sata Vyaghra Samhari, Maharajadhiraja Visva Bhuvana Samrat, Sir Jilani Jung Jung Bahadur, M.A.D., A.C.T.C., or C.R.C.K. But this Who is the Tiger name is often shortened to the Tiger King? Why does he get that King. name? I have come forward to tell you why he came to be known as Tiger King. I have no intention of pretending to advance only to end in a strategic withdrawal. Even the threat of a Stuka bomber will not throw me off track. The Stuka, if it likes, can beat a hasty retreat from my story. Right at the start, it is imperative to disclose a matter of vital importance about the Tiger King. Everyone who reads of him will experience the natural desire to meet a man of his indomitable courage face-to-face. But there is no chance of its fulfilment. As Bharata said to Rama about 8 Vistas
Dasaratha, the Tiger King has reached that final abode of all living creatures. In other words, the Tiger King is dead. The manner of his death is a matter of extraordinary interest. It can be revealed only at the end of the tale. The most fantastic aspect of his demise was that as soon as he was born, astrologers had foretold that one day the Tiger King would actually have to die. “The child will grow up to become the warrior of warriors, hero of heroes, champion of champions. But...” they bit their lips and swallowed hard. When compelled to continue, the astrologers came out with it. “This is a secret which should not be revealed at all. And yet we are forced to speak out. The child born under this star will one day have to meet its death.” At that very moment a great miracle took place. An astonishing phrase emerged from the lips of the ten-dayold Jilani Jung Jung Bahadur, “O wise prophets!’’ Everyone stood transfixed in stupefaction. They looked wildly at each other and blinked. ‘‘O wise prophets! It was I who spoke.’’ This time there were no grounds for doubt. It was the infant born just ten days ago who had enunciated the words so clearly. The chief astrologer took off his spectacles and gazed intently at the baby. ‘‘All those who are born will one day have to die. We don’t need your predictions to know that. There would be some sense in it if you could tell us the manner of that death,’’ the royal infant uttered these words in his little squeaky voice. The chief astrologer placed his finger on his nose in wonder. A baby barely ten days old opens its lips in speech! Not only that, it also raises intelligent questions! Incredible! Rather like the bulletins issued by the war office, than facts. The chief astrologer took his finger off his nose and fixed his eyes upon the little prince. ‘‘The prince was born in the hour of the Bull. The Bull and the Tiger are enemies, therefore, death comes from the Tiger,’’ he explained. The Tiger King 9
You may think that crown prince Jung Jung Bahadur was thrown into a quake when he heard the word ‘Tiger’. That was exactly what did not happen. As soon as he heard it pronounced, the crown prince gave a deep growl. Terrifying words emerged from his lips. ‘‘Let tigers beware!’’ This account is only a rumour rife in Pratibandapuram. But with hindsight we may conclude it was based on some truth.
Crown prince Jung Jung Bahadur grew taller and stronger day by day. No other miracle marked his childhood days apart from the event already described. The boy drank the milk of an English cow, was brought up by an English What did the royal nanny, tutored in English by an infant grow up Englishman, saw nothing but English to be? films — exactly as the crown princes of all the other Indian states did. When he came of age at twenty, the State, which had been with the Court of Wards until then, came into his hands. But everyone in the kingdom remembered the...