My Encounter With The Wild Animal



Rohini Ragavan


 
Copyright 2024 by Rohini Ragavan




Image by Ralph/Altrip/Germany from Pixabay
Image by Ralph/Altrip/Germany from Pixabay

I was a school girl, when I had my first wild animal encounter. My school was located amidst a dense jungle, that was a habitat to many flora and fauna. Summers wafted with mango fruit smell, as I often spotted squirrels frolicking. Winters, though not bone-chilling, brought the peacock sounds, in a vibrating resonance. It was a lush vegetation-abound place, with a huge, ancient baobab tree at the centre. A brook passed by the side, that supplied water source to the nearby fields.

On heavy monsoons, the students were warned as, not to go near the brook. The rainfall flooded the brook, and a careless student might fall into it, and get drowned. Also the murky water brought many branches and little uprooted trees on it's flow, and sometimes small live cattle and hens as well. Though many students refrained from the brook, I usually had a thrill at mounting the brook's bank and having a long view of it. The swish-swash of the waters and the plantain tree branches that the brook brought, was a sight to behold.

My parents warned me, when the first rain touched the ground. With all the warnings and all the cautions echoing in my left ear, I heard the sound of the brook beckoning me, with my right ear. One June morning, the sky was overcast, when I started to school. I was in my mathematics class, when rain pellets hit the ground. The intensity of the rain increased as the hours passed by. There were no classes held that day, and the school was declared leave for the rest of the day. As the first batch of students left for home in the first trip of bus, I waited with my school bag for the second trip. Usually the second trip of the bus would take nearly an hour to arrive.

I heard the faint tinkling of the brook water. The rain had stopped and I wanted to see the brook. Wanted to see the flooded waters, dashing against the mud bank. I moved towards the brook. As I neared it, the sun's rays threw a brilliant VIBGYOR towards the sky. What is VIBGYOR? It is a device to remember the colors of the rainbow-- Violet, Indigo, Blue, Green, Yellow, Orange, and Red.

I saw the waters flooding the bank below. I stood on the safety of the mud bank and watched in silence, for a few minutes. As I turned around to leave, I heard a mewling voice. I looked at the left corner of the brook. It was there that, I saw a giant black form. A shiny velvety black Jaguar. The wild animal was swimming in the water, it's huge form heaving up and down. The jaguar threw it's face up above the water, and I saw two jaguar cubs in her mouth. The cubs were dripping with water, but were safe nevertheless. The jaguar swam in big strides towards the water.

Suddenly the flood increased the tide, and she dropped a cub in the water. The cub floated and moved towards my side. Then she noticed me. She gave a growl with the single cub in her mouth. The drowning cub splashed frantically as it came near my side. The jaguar's eyes glistened in a blood-red hue. I knew it was time to act. If I saved the cub from the waters, the jaguar is sure to take me down. The wild animal would not realise my intention of saving the cub. She would think I am harming it, and attack me. Also I knew, this is the right time for me to escape from the place, while the jaguar is down in the waters. But if I ran away, the cub would drown and die. The jaguar could not catch hold of the drowning cub, with already a cub in her mouth, in the enclosing waters. It was either my survival, or the cub's death.

I gave a deep sigh and threw my survival to the wind. The cub, though a wild animal is a living being. It had every right to live. And the jaguar, though a wild animal is also a living being. The loss of the cub would be excruciating for her. With iron determination i waded into the flooding water. The jaguar too strived her I panted when I reached the bank. I did not turn back, as I put the cub in a culvert between the dry pebbles. The cub made a weak mewl, but I knew intuitively that it was safe at last. I caressed it for a second, and then jumped above. I saw the jaguar too, moving to the safety of the bank. As I started running up bank, the jaguar too moved in a fast pace towards me, or the famished cub, I did not know. As I was about to slide down the slope towards the ground, I halted. The jaguar too halted.

I heard human sounds and footsteps. Some people were fast approaching the brook. If they saw the jaguar, there would be such a panic. They would seize the cub that lay on the rocks. The jaguar would attack them. They would inform about the presence of the jaguar to the local animals. The jaguar family will be relocated elsewhere, far from their home. To the worst, they might be locked in a cage. I could not bear to stand aside, and watch such pathos. I turned and looked at the jaguar. I firmly believed that the jaguar will not attack me, and understand the current predicament. The voices came near now. As I inched towards the bushes for the hiding nearby, the jaguar jumped down to the brook bank. She placed the cubs under a thick jungle guava bush. Just as she went into hiding,

I saw the heads of my principal and the class master. They stood on the bank, talking about the flood for a while, which seemed an eternity for me. There was no movement from the jaguar hideout too. After some time, I realised, the masters were about to depart from the place. As they walked a few steps, I heard a thud. My heart missed a beat. I cocked my head enough to a safe perimeter, to see what caused the thud. Another thud erupted, as a little immature coconut fell on the brook pebbles. The men resumed their steps and disappeared from sight.

As I came out from my hide out I saw the jaguar too rising. She held the cubs in her jaw. The drowned cub was revived now. I felt rush of joy on the seeing the two cubs in their normal state. The jaguar looked at me. Though an animal devoid of human voice, I understood her emotions. I shivered as the rain drop from an overhanging branch dropped in my scalp. The jaguar jumped to the other bank, in one lithe movement, walked amidst the thick vegetation and was out of sight.

This incident happened, when I was a school girl. Years had rolled on and now I am an adult. I still remember my encounter with the jaguar.

*****

I have a masters degree in English language. I have trained students on the versatility of English language.  I live in Rajapalayam. India.




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