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Book Review: A Tiger in the House by Ruskin Bond

‘A Tiger in the House’ is a short story written by Ruskin Bond. Ruskin’s grandfather once went with the party of tiger hunters in the Tarai jungles of North India. The party was from Delhi, they were na├»ve and grandfather was a seasoned player of the wild – he was not a hunter but knew how to tame and behave with the wild animals like tiger and lion. The trip was luxurious but they returned empty handed. None of the hunters succeed in hunting down any tiger or lion. Well, grandfather found a cub and brought it home. The cub was named Timothy. He started living with the family, as a cub he was not harmful to anyone. Initially, he drank milk but as he began growing, he was given meat as a food.

With time as the tiger grew young, his behavior towards humans began changing. Soon, grandfather transported the tiger to the zoo of Lucknow. After some months, when grandfather happened to be in Lucknow, he visited the zoo and went straight forward to the cage where Timothy was interned. Grandfather put both his hands and began caressing him. The tiger was moved by his way of handling him. Having seen Timothy was a moment of catharsis for grandfather.

Soon a guard interrupted grandfather and told that the tiger he was cuddling was not Timothy. He further said that Timothy died two months ago due to pneumonia. Grandfather withdrew his hands from the cage and gave a scornful look to the guard for disturbing him mentally.

In his books and stories, Ruskin has always talked about conserving nature and wild species. From this story it is clear that the tiger died due to change in environment i.e. from forest to house then into zoo. Being with the nature is best suited to animals and birds; probably this is the message from this story.


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