I was in a jeep with my husband, my sister-in-law and her husband –professional tiger conservationists – and their team of wildlife workers. This duo had spent years in the forests of Tadoba (Western India) and had set up the tiger reserve there. Tiger sightings were common for them, but not for this city girl from Bombay!
It was close to dawn. We had seen beautiful and exquisite birds, at least 4 species of deer, monkeys and langoors, the Indian bison and more. We had seen tiger pug marks and followed the calls of the wild, which the conservationists Poonam and Harsh Dhanwatey seemed to comprehend.
I was attentive to these calls of the wild and smells of the forest, and felt the suspense of what lay ahead. I was taking it all in.
The jeep zipped through the partly dark forest. We were hushed into silence, told to stay cam, very quiet and still!
We were close to a tigress with her kill – or perhaps, her cubs!
With a sharp turn and abrupt stop, the low and dimmed headlights swung onto a sight that still fills me with awe, even these 15 years later.
There she was – absolutely still. Calm. Quiet. Confident. Her self-awareness and esteem spread like a large aura behind her. We were in her territory. She looked straight at us. Each one of us experienced her magnificent gaze.
The way she looked – her eyes bore into my soul, stirring up feelings not of fear, but of reverence. The message was clear: “I AM… POWER!”
Our presence was not going to disturb her. She paused and posed. And then, she lowered her head behind the lush bamboo. What I heard next, made me hold my breath for the longest time ever! She was feeding on a massive Sambar deer. Needless to say, the other wild animals had not been wrong alerting the rest that a tigress was on her prowl just moments ago.
She cracked the bones of her prey.
She crunched softly.
I heard her power.
She looked up – majestically, her mouth dripping blood.
I got the message. This was her time. Her territory. Her rules.
She was not one to be disturbed.
That tigress left a mark on my soul. She imparted an understanding of power, contentment and quiet confidence to me.
Aradhna Sethi hails from India but lives in Europe. She is the former editor of a newspaper. Based in Europe, presently, she is focusing on her blog aradhnasethi.wordpress.com