A Night With Man-Eaters

Its raining cats and more cats

A friend, her husband and I had gone to Mukteshwar quite some time back. My friend and her husband checked into a cottage and I checked into tented accommodation a little distance away. It was off season, Mukteshwar had very tourists and so did the camp. It was deserted except for me alone in a tent. I had for company about dozen or so empty tents with no one else around not even the camp caretaker – he had moved off to his friends at the cottage. Once the dinner was done I had to go to my tent something I was rather reluctant to do as staying all alone in a tent at a deserted camping site was not my idea of peace. I delayed the going by chatting up with the cook. Basically polite conversation in which he also told me that there were leopards around but did not come into to the camp as it was quite near the road. Good leopards! how considerate. So off I went to my abode for the night with a solar lantern for company which was just slightly less afraid than me.

 All this while, in back of my mind, the stories of Jim Corbett’s man-eaters were playing tricks. One was about the clever leopard of Rudraprayag and other of the fearsome tiger of MUKTESHWAR! who use to have his meals nearby many decades back. The two tales fused in my mind as I settled for the night in the tent. I closed all the fasteners and loops to securely close the tent but feeling rather insecure myself. Rudraprayag leopard, I remembered picked many a meal by coming inside homes and this was flimsy tent! Anyways I decided to be brave and lay down on the bed taking strength and courage from the lantern. It was past mid night and deathly quite. The time when animals are at their best and  humans worst. I could not sleep a wink for the fellows of Rudraprayag and the neighbourhood won’t let me. I waited for dawn to break which was some six hours away. A light breeze started to flow. Each swish of breeze very gently shook the tent from all sides. Beautiful it was but it scared me to death. Really. With each swish of the tent I would say “Kaun hai”? in whispered tones. What if some one had answered “hum hain tendua aur sher jaldi karo bhook lagee hai!”? Some how the night passed, the faithful lantern held out and continued to glow right through my ordeal. An ordeal which I thought was no less than what Jim Corbett went through while sitting over a kill waiting for man-eaters. The morning came-one of my happiest mornings – and I rushed out my abode and went and sat outside the cottage where my friends were peacefully asleep. All India Radio – being played by the caretaker in the kitchen – never sounded so good. All my fears had gone I was now happy and secure and no tiger or leopard dare touch me.So much so for my fear of the unknown. Though when I look back I feel if these animals had to do something to me at all then the time I rushed out of my tent and sat outside the cottage would have been just the opportunity they were looking for. Daylight offers no security. I forgot Mukteshwar’s tiger hunted by the day. 

 

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Published in: on 22 October , 2007 at 8:05 am  Leave a Comment