I am a Royal Bengal tiger. I was told that when I was young, I came with my Mother to Britain. We were gifts from the first Prime Minister of India, Pandit Nehru to Edwina Mountbatten, when she left India, in 1947.
One day, I could not believe my luck when my cage was unlocked. I waited for a second or two not knowing what to expect. Then I took the plunge before someone could stop me. I ran and ran till the end of the road. At the end of the road I saw bustling traffic; it was new to me. I did not know where I was going or what to expect.
It was terrific to be free. The freedom to move anywhere I like was euphoric.
The world was extremely different from what I’d observed two years ago, when I was shifted in my cage from Windsor Safari to the London Zoo at Regents Park. I noticed an astonishing difference and change – more people were on the road, the traffic seemed to have doubled, cars were honking as I crossed he road. Why was everybody running away from me? Was I some rare specimen?
I felt odd as there was no one like me around. All others were wearing different kinds of clothes to cover their body, unlike me who never had to wear a stitch of clothing in my life! It made me feel quite naked and I found myself feeling embarrassed of my exposed yellow and black striped body. A tiger cannot change his stripes!
It was summer. The temperature was 28 degrees. As I made my journey through Regents Park, I saw quite a few people sunbathing with little or no clothes on. The look on their faces was as if they’d seen a monster. They could not take their eyes off me. I was dying to go up to talk to them and tried to ask them, why were they wearing so little? I did utter a few audible sounds but it went unnoticed, but as I thought they did not understand my animal language. What a pity! My estimation of human intelligence was high, until now, when I discovered that they could not understand a basic language like mine. I soon found out that they were not so bright as they were made out to be!
Why oh why did they all run away from me, when I wanted to be friends?
I wandered on, aimlessly out of the greenness of the park onto Marylebone Road and all the way to Oxford Street. The pavements were rough for my paws, but it was fun to see the world around even though I could not communicate with anyone. My first adventure!
My pace of walking was quicker than the average human pace. When I reached Oxford Street, I could not believe my eyes. It was full of big shops. Each shop sold a variety of things and were colourfully and attractively decorated. All the window dressing were for humans. There was nothing that could be called ‘animal geared’! Don’t animals come shopping, I wondered?
As soon as I entered a sound went off, people stopped what they were doing and focused their eyes on me. They looked petrified. I had a sudden feeling that my freedom was coming to an end. Suddenly a giant net came and caught me. A muzzle was put on my face, making it rather uncomfortable for me to breathe. I did not understand why, all this was happening, surely animals too had a right to lead a normal life or was it a prerogative of only the so-called humans?
Soon I was surrounded by a mass of people. Although I was ravenous, I did want to hurt or maul anybody, I wanted to break the stereotype. I made no attempt to attack the humans and held back my animal instinct.
My freedom had vanished in that second. It was all over in a moment.
I was led into a caged van. I felt desperately low.
I could never ever be a part of the outside world because human beings find it difficult to accept anything or anyone who is different. That is how I went back to my monotonous life of merely existing.
There it stands. I must always be caged … Misunderstood … Rejected by society