Right then, under fed conditions, we were on a predetermined glide path through the jungle to the exit gate. Our pace, gentle; the wander through the thicket, therapeutic. Zenlike was our ride out, when the guide (born and bred to be a spotter) shatters the humdrum with top drama, he shrieks Tiger on the road!!!
Was this it? Was the epiphanic moment finally here? I recall seeing a giant tail swaying, followed by watching orange and black stripes gracefully stepping on the tan. An epithet in the flesh, barely 20 meters from us. She was Sunainah, a young tigress on her territorial patrol.
I will never forget when she turned around and looked at us straight in the eye, paused ephemerally and in the very next moment, with such elegant disdain, completely dismissed our presence. We were awestruck.
Startled, delirious and ecstatic, I could instantly recall the umpteen mentions of how “a tiger in the wild was incomparable” and of all those times when pug marks were the closest we ever got.
Through the trees, the rays of the sun made for such beautiful light; with the noise of the jungle as the background score, this was a centerstage unravelling of the most dramatic.
We followed it, keeping a sure distance, amazed at every move she made. She decided to saunter into the woods and all of us sighed. This is when our naturalist ever so confidently said let us manage this and he drove past her and turned off the vehicle; just as he had predicted she came back on the unpaved tan and this time we were the ones being followed. What a move by our accompanying naturalist, Yaju you Rockstar.
We kept on moving and watching her as she continued on her patrol, unperturbed by our presence. After a while, another car came by and this is when the tigress went in the forest and finally, we saw her cross a stream into the dense.
We could not have asked more of this day. Working in perfect harmony, our guide and our naturalist had provided us with incredible viewing opportunities. We went back feeling contended, maybe a tad bit victorious, but most of all, humbled. Yes; the jungle was surreal and an epitome of harmonious thriving beauty and seeing the tiger was enigmatic, but the narrative was so much more. A speck suspended in a sunbeam had more life than we could ever fathom. Such vastness deserves nothing but utmost respect, especially from its custodians – the Homo sapiens (Latin: “wise men”).
Next post on the way…