The seeds of my short story ‘A Tiger’s Tale’ were sown during an ‘Intro to Creative Writing’ course (a birthday gift from the hubby) that I took at The Writing Salon early last year. As part of an assignment to write something starting with “I remember…”, I began to imagine an old lady narrating her childhood experience about an electrifying night in her village, arising from a visit by a fearsome beast of the jungle. I have always been fascinated by tigers and have been fortunate to feast my eyes on this magnificent creature in the wild, as documented in an old blog post ‘Orange Royalty‘. In class, I read aloud my short but incomplete piece, building suspense and stopping just short of the actual thrilling encounter. I was happy when, during the round of feedback, my classmates asked the one question every story-teller wants to hear, “what happens next?”
A whole year went by before I was myself tempted to find out the answer. In the process, another narrative sprouted up that was different from the Grandmother’s account, thus creating a story within a story. After I wrote it, I decided to have it critiqued by asking three people – my younger sister, my husband and a friend from my workplace – to read it and provide honest feedback. They did a great job and I came out of this informal workshop feeling grateful for their suggestions and becoming aware of aspects of my writing that I was otherwise blind to.
In my writing class, the instructor would provide feedback at the end after everyone else was done. She mentioned that she had liked my piece and spoke about how the tiger always seems like a magical creature. I could not agree with her more. There is something about this animal that is mysterious and otherworldly, giving stories about it a special spark.
Here is a small part of the story that is similar to the piece I first wrote for the class assignment:
. . .
“It happened a long time ago,” Grandma continued, “we lived on the outskirts of this busy and as yet, unborn city. It was just a tiny town surrounded by a smattering of villages and thick jungle growing ferociously between every settlement. There was no electricity back then and my parents and us four children would eat supper by the wood stove over which my mother prepared every meal. That night, we talked about the tiger that was terrorizing nearby hamlets and attacking cattle, listening wide-eyed as our father warned us not to venture out alone after dark in the sugarcane fields. We finished eating and began to prepare for bed. My oldest brother, not a boy anymore but a young man, was in the habit of strolling down the path that lead away from our tiny hut to smoke a beedi* after supper. He was my favourite sibling and I was always the one he brought home the choicest sweets for after work. Undeterred by the earlier conversation, he got ready to leave, promising not to stray from his usual route that stopped before the fields and the forest. I whimpered in protest and tried to appear angrier by widening my eyes until they almost popped out. Laughing at what he considered to be mere childishness, he left the house. I decided that I was not going to give up so easily. My imagination was on fire and in it, I clearly saw him becoming the tiger’s dinner. I pretended to lie down in bed and managed to slip out soon after. As he set out, I followed him like a cat, jumping between shadows under the full moon hanging like a bright lantern in the starless sky.
. . .
Hope you enjoy reading the entire story ‘A Tiger’s Tale’ found on ‘The Literary Yard’ at: http://literaryyard.com/2014/08/21/story-a-tigers-tale