The sun was a red orb in the western sky. Seated at the back of a jeep, my husband and I were turning left and right, sometimes staring into the depths of the forest, at other times scrutinizing the stretches of dense, tall grasses or craning our necks to decipher the grey shapes moving along the edges of the occasional water body.
"Tiger!" the driver whispered and braked the vehicle. Following his gaze, we spotted an animal striding among the tawny bushes. With wide eyes I took in the unmistakable feline snout, the protruding chin and the flaming stripes. Through all these years, what had captivated me from picture books; mesmerized me from paintings; riveted me to the tales of jungles, especially those penned by Jim Corbett; awed me from TV documentaries and dragged me to the zoos, even if for an unsatisfactory glimpse through the bars amidst the annoying din, was out there - unbounded and unconfined - a few meters away from me. As I sunk myself in the moment in the way one does when struck by something unbelievably good it disappeared among the grasses, leaving me with a sense of glorious bewilderment.
Zoom to see the tiger in the photo below.