The Prince is Knighted King!!

Friday 14, 2009
Rustam had started coming into his own. He was now pushing 2.5 yrs. His mother could see how he had adapted and fine-tuned his skills for hunting prey. He would routinely wander off for a few days and then come back to the family. This habit would increase over time till the time that he would eventually have to leave the family for good.

Rustam had a formidable presence indeed. Measuring about a metre at the shoulder and about 10 ft from head to rear end (with a tail of a further 3 ft, Rustam was one of the biggest tigers in the area. While a Royal Bengal Tiger can weigh anywhere between 180-250 kgs, Rustam was a fine specimen weighing in at about 225 kgs.)

While on one of his expeditions with his family while he was younger, he had noticed the scent markings of a female in the surrounding area. Occasionally, he had seen her glimpse. Her name was Sita. She was older than Rustam by about 2 years, but foxy indeed!! There were other signs too, which marked the expanse of her territory. Her scratch makings on the trees were quite evident. Sometime during the mating season, Rustam had heard her distant moans. But he was too young to interfere or investigate.

But now, things had changed. Rustam’s day of reckoning had come. Although Rustam was the prince, he was yet to establish his own kingdom and achieve the status of King. Between him and his ultimate destiny stood the dominant male of the area, Rana.

Rana was a much older tiger. He had much more experience at running his kingdom and bore the marks of many a years battles. The fact that his territory ran vast proved that in all these battles, Rana had emerged victorious!

Rana’s territory overlapped various tigresses territories with whom he would mate. This included Sita. If there was ever a way for Rustam to be with Sita, it had to cross through Rana.

One fine morning , Rustam ventured out a bit too much into Sita’s territory. He was following the moans of her mating call. He responded. She responded back. They steadily treaded towards each other with the sound of “aoongh – aoongh” resonating in the vaadi. The birds and monkeys shrieked and ran for cover. The deer alerted in their footsteps, started pounding their feet. Chirps of birds and the calls of peacocks alerted all other creatures in the area. Little did Rustam realize that he was to face his biggest nemesis on this fateful day.

Suddenly, when both of them came in sight of each other, a third tiger emerged from behind the bushes. A towering presence indeed, it was none other than Rana. All of a sudden, all the love and passion in Rustam’s heart got transformed into anxiety and aggression. His face hardened. Claws twitched. All four of the major canines in view, it was a heart wrenching sight indeed ! They roared and snarled at each other, both trying to intimidate the other into backing away.! But that was not to happen. Both had an equal zeal to hold on to their ground while Sita looked on in disdain.

With a gigantic roar marking the advent of the battle, two goliaths collided. The whole jungle shuddered with the echoes of their growls. With retracted claws, they would rise on their hind feet and slap each other !! A slap with atleast 200 kgs of muscle behind it! Blood, Roars, and a slurry of crimson red lines set against black and yellow stripes. The battle went on. (These kind of battles may even run into a full day sometimes.) After about 2 hours, a fatal blow on the head brought Rana down. The cuts and bruises were making him lose a lot of blood. His fate, was sealed.

The winner had been decided. The circle of life had come a full round. While Rana lay there waiting for death to arrive, Sita came closer to Rustam and started nursing and licking his wounds. Rustam looked on towards Rana, as if in regard for a fallen warrior who had fought to protect his kingdom right till the last breath!!

The cries had attracted Rustam’s mother as well. A strange drama ensued as she approached towards them and saw, on the ground, gasping for his last breath, the father, of her son.