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Book Review: Panther’s Moon by Ruskin Bond

Panther’s Moon is a great read about a wounded panther’s plight. The story takes place, as usual, in the Himalayan village of India named Manjari. It’s a tiny village with only five houses and from this small village only one boy named Bisnu, who lives with his widowed mother and elder sister Pooja, goes to school which is located five miles away. He also takes care of his family by doing little bit farming. His day to day activities include getting up early so that he can reach his school at time, which is at a distance of five miles. He has to cross a stream, wound up and down the mountains and pass through a dark forest where he is often welcomed by monkeys.

We see Bisnu and his dog Sheru. They both go together wherever they go. The village where Bisnu goes for education is bigger and connected to town and it has a bus stop, market, hospital and of course his school. Man-eater leopards or tigers often make common news for the people of hill. But this time, the leopard is different because some days ago a bunch of inexperienced hunters tried hitting that leopard with a bullet but it didn’t bring him down, rather he is wounded and nowadays preys on domestic animals, children, old women and even young boys like Bisnu.

The road that Bisnu takes is lonely and filled with perils, however, he being studious goes to school every day, and midway he meets the milk-selling boy Sarru, who comes from another tiny village. They share the half path often, if not every day. At times, Bisnu also happens to meet Melaram, the postman. Sheru, his dog, always accompanies him, even at school.

Well, the news of leopard terror keeps hitting him and his village but people often pay no heed until it comes to their door. Because of summer people are sleeping with doors open, well one night the leopard attacks and tries to drag Sanjay, the son of Kalam Singh. The leopard almost skins out half of his skull and Kalam Singh carries his son to hospital every day for treatment. It is miracle that despite being half eaten by the leopard, his son survives. Kalam vows to kill that leopard. One day while returning from school, Bisnu hears something rumbling in the bushes and when he turns around to see, there is no Sheru. It is being taken away by the leopard. Thereafter Bisnu grows sad and people around him feel for him.

One night the leopard takes an old woman. People report the matter to authorities but to no avail as all hunters are on leave or out of the town. Bisnu stops going school for many days and at the same time his final exams are approaching, thus his attendance is critical to passing the exams. Ignoring the havoc caused by that man-eater, one day Bisnu, while walking home from school, takes up a stray goat calf with him. Soon the leopard begins chasing them from the mountain and seeing this Bisnu runs for some time and then climbs up a tree. He begins shouting for help. As the day ends, people worries about his return and Kalam Singh with some men start the search party. They find him soon perched atop a tree. The leopard is sitting beneath the tree, waiting for its prey. The men gather around the leopard and Kalam Singh kills the leopard with a spear.

Well, here the crux of the story is why that leopard despite living in forested mountains has to go after wild animals and local people for its food? Because of some irrational and greedy hunters who missed their shot and it debilitated the leopard’s hunting skills. Thus, the leopard was forced to become a man-eater and thus it got killed unnecessary.

Conclusion is that men have been destroying everything for their greed, like animals, their habitats and forests and mountains and so on. It all will cause a major disturbance in the working of the nature.

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