A Tiger.

Day 6 of NPM Scavenger hunt.

My father was an avid hunter. He roamed the jungles of Mysore in South India with his uncles and cousins, in search of tigers and cheetahs. Preparations would be carried on for weeks before the actual date of departure. The servants who would accompany them would go into the jungles ahead, and look for any fresh evidence of the big cats. Fresh poop, was the best indicator that the predators were not too far away.

A make shift hideout would be constructed in the dense jungle; they called it the ‘Machaan’. It was like a large wooden box which could hold two people with ease. Small square windows, large enough to get the gun through, and these windows enabled them to look out. Early in the night the servants would drag a goat or a sheep to a tree not too far from the machaan.

I would hear these stories and shiver. Sacrificing a goat and then killing a majestic animal while it was eating its prey, was something I couldn’t stomach.

I continue to be surprised to this day that my father indulged in that sport. He was such a mild mannered and gentle person, full of compassion. One of his uncles was a gifted artist. On one such trips, that uncle got the picture of the tiger crouching in the grass. He saved it in his mind, came home and painted it. That was 1916. The painting was a masterpiece and hung in the National Museum in Delhi on a loan. Today it is with me.

The eyes of this painted tiger looked straight at you, regardless of where you stood in the room.


This poem, A Tiger, is offered to the readers as the prompt for the National Poetry Month.

Footsteps on the surface of the heart, feeling the
head, and the mouth open wide, while his fur in
all glory stretched across the middle of the drawing room.

Touch me touch me not, bare teeth exposed like the fangs of
a reptile, refuse to accept, the game for selfish gratification.
The sacrificial bleating silenced in the glass eyes
mock the human hunger! They scream—

“Tyger tyger, burning bright
in the forests of the night
what immortal hand or eye
could frame thy fearful symmetry”  ( William Blake)

ZSA_MD April 6th 2016.

{{ I hope you can see the Painting of the tiger. When I post it , it shows up, but when I go to my post to view it, I don’t see it.}}

About Zakiah

I write poetry and some fiction, have a book that was published in 2012. . . Stray Thoughts/Winged Words. I have four grandchildren, ages 16 and half to almost 16 months. I love the ocean, and grew up along the Indian Ocean in South India. I am a retired physician. Don't know much else to say. Thanks for reading. That has been my profile for so many years. My daughter Saadia a great poet and story teller, has two sons; the oldest grandson is now 21 years old, doing architectural engineering at Missouri S&T in Rolla MO. His younger brother is almost 16 and taking driving lessons seriously and is in High School. The other two grandsons, children of my son Sayeed, are 9 and 5. I have recently published another book titled Gulistan, A home of Flowers. It has stories and memories of my childhood and of a distant land which I still consider as my HOME., even though I have lived here in the US for more than fifty years. Hope to see you on my blog.
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21 Responses to A Tiger.

  1. I can see the painting. 😊 lovely. I don’t understand the sport of hunting. But I enjoyed this post

    • Zakiah says:

      Thank you so much. I am happy that you were able to see the painting. Some day I will write a post about how I came to have it. As you can imagine, it is a very special and prized possession.
      Yeah I don’t understand the sport of hunting either. 😉
      Love and hugs.

  2. I can see the picture. I like the idea of taking a picture, painting or writing about an animal rather than hunting it. It’s a better way of honoring those creatures. There’s a tile beside the painting and I think there’s another on the other side too. Is there a story behind those tiles?

    • Zakiah says:

      I agree with you one hundred percent. Dad in his youth, hunted with his uncles and cousins. This was around the turn of the twentieth century. After his studies, he never hunted. His uncles had died, and he had got married. He never took up the sport again. I think the British who were ruling India had put the bug of hunting into the minds of the youth in those days. (I think).
      I bought those tiles in Amsterdam when I went through the Delft museum. They were made there and glazed and while I waited. I love them. This was in the early nineties I think.
      You are so observant Matt.

  3. slmret says:

    The tiger is spectacular, considering it was painted from memory! Did you ever eat tiger or cheetah, or was the hunting entirely for sport? And the poem — what a beautiful idea to incorporate a stanza of William Blake’s poem into yours! So powerful! That’s quite an honor to own a painting hanging in a national gallery — do sometime tell that story 🙂 .

    • Zakiah says:

      Thank you Janet. No we never ate any meat except lamb and chicken and occasionally venison if a cousin who had shot a deer would bring that meat home. Not even beef. As I told Matt above, father, I think was swayed by the British way of life and took up hunting because the Brits hunted, and because his uncles hunted. Once he started working, he never ever hunted.
      I thought I had written about the painting and how I acquired it, on Xanga. I may be mistaken. I shall write about it soon. Thank you for the interest.
      Can’t wait for June.

  4. The painting is lovely . How did you get it? Did your uncle pass it down to you?
    I only think hunting is okay IF you are going to use the animal for food and other parts as needed. Hunting for sport eludes me. . Lovely poem. hugs and love

  5. Love the story and word pics it put in my mind! Oh, and the beautiful painting! Wow! My gosh, how did the painting end up with you?!
    I think tigers are majestic, elegant, mysterious, and beautiful!
    I’ve always enjoyed the Blake poem!
    🐯 🐾 🐯 🐾 🐯 🐾 HUGS!!! 🙂

    • Zakiah says:

      Since so many friends have asked about the painting, I should sit down and write about it. I shall do that sometime next week, if the Poetry challenge doesn’t floor me too much.
      I love tigers and cheetas, and lions. OMG, I love them.

  6. You know I will always love it when I get to read stories of your youth; glimpses into your early years. They always enthrall me. You have captured both a story and a poem in one fell swoop and done a glorious job with both.

    • Zakiah says:

      Muah! how sweet is this comment!? Love it. Do you remember seeing the painting at home when you were here Cindy? Perhaps we never did go into that part of the home, we were so busy with the fund raiser dinner!! 🙂 Thank you so much for the grand comment.

  7. kaylar says:

    I love hearing your stories from your life in India, even this one, that is hard to hear.
    Does the poem mean you could not resist touching the skin that came home?
    That painting is glorious. It must be such a mix of feelings for you, to have it.

    • Zakiah says:

      We had several skins at home. We used to walk on them. Doesn’t that sound so bad? But these skins were the floor coverings in a couple of rooms. Only one of them had the head attached. If you read my comment to Matt and Janet above, you will note that father had topped hunting by 1920 or so.
      Thank you for leaving such a sweet comment Kim, I love hearing from you.

  8. FromtheChurchoftheToastedCoconutDoughnut says:

    Wow. What a story, Zakiah. You have such rich adventures in your memories. And that is a beautiful painting.

    • Zakiah says:

      Thank you Leah. As I was telling Val on xanga, that your prompts are so good, but so challenging. I HAVE to dig into my past to bring some of them out on screen. I shall write about this painting soon. Many friends have asked how I came by it. But, I told some, that I have to pay attention to Leah’s prompts first! heh heh.

  9. theinfiniterally says:

    A wonderful story and poem, and of course they belong together. You simply must write your autobiography one of these days. Or if you have and I am not aware, I need to have it!

    I can see the painting. What a treasure, I’m so glad you have it! It sounds like there are some interesting stories to tell about your uncle as well!

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