Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Mother

(Found this one accidentally. Had written this about six years back for a 'Short story' competition. Remember typing this out sitting in a cyber cafe. Certainly not my best work, but worth sharing.)

The afternoon rays of the sun filtered through the trees towards the three tiger cubs flirting around with themselves in the dirt and enjoying the balmy sunlight on their furry little backs. A few feet away, resting calmly and watching her cubs lovingly, was their mother, Sita.  The queen of her territory in this tiger reserve of Ranthambhore, Sita, a 14-year-old tigress with a large and gleamingly beautifully striped body, had given birth to this litter six weeks back. The cubs were now old enough to eat raw meat instead of their daily dosage of mother’s milk.

Sita had killed a wild boar four days back but it didn’t satiate the whole family's hunger for long. Hunting was a very difficult business in the summer months in Ranthambhore; what with the scorching Rajasthan heat and intense humidity, she would tire easily after running just a few miles.

Now she desperately needed to hunt as she had three more mouths to feed other than hers. So she waited for darkness to descend, which would allow her to hunt with much more precision.

As the light dimmed, Sita rose from her place and with great care took each of her cubs in her jaws and placed them in a small crevice besides the bushes. This was a good place to hide her cubs from predators. She looked at them sternly as if signaling them to stay put before she returns.

With a final curt glance at her cubs, she made a dash towards the swamp ahead...


It was a little past midnight now and the moon shone brightly over the damp grass of the forest floor. The jungle lay eerily still, except for the sound of her heavy paws thumping on the soft grass. Sita was dragging her kill, a large male stag, towards her shelter. She was extremely pleased with herself and relieved that she could now feed her young; as this large stag would easily last for days.

But as she closed in, her body froze. There, just a few feet ahead of her, stood a large fully grown adult male tiger looking not at her but at the bushes ahead of him; where quivering in fear were the three tiger cubs. Sita dropped the kill quietly and was totally alert now. This male was probably from the nearby territory, and male tigers are known to kill smaller cubs to wipe out all competition. The male, whose muscular body glistened in the moon light, was probably twice her size, and was slowly approaching the cubs. Sita knew she had no chance against him but had to act instantly as the tiger was about to make his move any second now. Arching her body up, she lunged straight ahead and pounced on his back. The male, who hadn’t noticed Sita yet, was taken completely aback and fell to the ground. Taking advantage of her position Sita began clawing at his face savagely. The male, with the brute strength he possessed, managed to push her back and was seething with rage; his nostrils flaring in anger. He issued a blood-curdling roar and leapt up fiercely, but Sita was ready. 

The brutal clash that ensued shook the entire jungle. Everything in the vicinity; even the trees and the bushes seemed to be quivering with fear. The two tore away viciously; biting and gnawing at each other's bodies; their snarling and roaring creating a deafening racket. Finally, after about half an hour of ruthless battle, the male bowed out; failing to withstand the power of a mother hell-bent on protecting her young. She would have rather died rather than let her cubs be killed. The male, heavily injured and defeated, strolled away slowly; his head hanging in shame.

Sita finally fell to the ground; panting heavily. Gruesome battle marks were strewn across her body. There was a sudden gust of wind and the leaves of the trees swayed, almost as if applauding the gladiator beneath them. The cubs, who had come out of their hiding space, were now licking their mother's wounds, trying to revive her. Sita forced her head up with all the effort she could muster, and looked at her cubs. All healthy and safe. Satisfied, she rested her head back on the ground. Her eyes fluttered and then closed.

The mother had done her job...


  1. no doubt u love/adore/ stand in awe of tigers n have read a lot abt them. i assume u have read jim corbett’s books. i have heard there is nothing like them-to say the least. ur story had a lot of visual appeal, i cud picture while reading. it was fantastic from beginning to end.

  2. " MAA TUJHE SALAAM " apt title for this small story so wonderfully written...Loved it.

  3. Nice story. Well written! Liked reading it :)