One of Timothy’s favourite amusements was to stalk anyone who would play with him, and so, when I came to live with Grandfather, I became one of the tiger’s favourites. With a crafty look in his glittering eyes, and his body crouching, he would creep closer and closer to me, suddenly making a dash for my feet, rolling over on his back and kicking with delight, and pretending to bite my ankles.
He was by this time the size of a full-grown retriever, and when I took him out for walks, people on the road would give us a wide berth. When he pulled hard on his chain, I had difficulty in keeping up with him. His favourite place in the house was the drawing-room, and he would make himself comfortable on the long sofa, reclining there with great dignity, and snarling at anybody who tried to get him off.
Timothy had clean habits, and would scrub his face with his paws exactly like a cat. He slept at night in the cook’s quarters, and was always delighted at being let out by him in the morning.
“One of these days,” declared Grandmother in her prophetic manner, “we are going to find Timothy sitting on Mahmoud’s bed, and no sign of the cook except his clothes and shoes!”
Timothy, being brought up amidst human beings, loves to go behind people who played with him. Unlike other tigers who would eye on humans to make a meal out of them, Timothy exhibits the characteristics of a puppy, who follows people who played with him. Therefore when the narrator plays with him when he is visiting grandfather, he follows behind him, seeking more attention. The narrator thus becomes the tiger's favourites. His way of playing with the narrator involves both caution and fun. He takes time to understand the narrator's mood and slowly creeps closer to him. His eyes would glitter with the enthusiasm of a child and when he sees the opportunity to get any closer, he rolls over his back and pretends to bite the narrator's ankles. This was only to tease and have fun with him and was taken on a lighter note.
*A tiger playing with man
As days passed by, Timothy grew big that the author compares his size to that of a dog breed named retriever. When he was taken out for walks, he was chained like a pet dog taken out for walking. But the situation was slightly different from that of a puppy taken out for a stroll, as people found it dangerous and gave them a wide space to walk on the road. They found the situation unusual and therefore, did not want to take any risk with their lives. The narrator himself was faced with a tough situation since the tiger who had grown into a strong animal, pulled on the chain and he was not able to control it and walk along with him. Timothy loved the drawing-room in the house, as it was the centre of all attention in the house. He made himself comfortable on the sofa, lying there like a king overseeing his subjects. He showed so much dignity and poise, and was aggressive when anyone asked him to move him from his place. He slowly starts showing his dominance and powerful attitude, in spite of being in a tamed environment.
A full-grown retriever
Timothy had very clean habits that made him similar to a cat. Although tigers belong to the cat family, they are wild and can be less bothered about hygiene. But a cat always licks himself and makes sure that he cleans himself. Similarly, Timothy being brought up in the human environment, scrubs his face, with his paws, thereby cleaning himself like a cat. He also slept in the night with Mahmoud the cook and was let out by him in the morning. This was quite unusual for a tiger to sleep in the same premises as a man, and not harming him. But grandmother had her own doubts, as she remarks that things may change in a day and Timothy might become his wild self, eating the cook, leaving only his shoes and clothes behind.
Tiger scrubbing himself
Words with difficult meanings:
|Amusement||The state or experience of finding something enjoyable|
|Stalk||Following or watching a person|
|Crafty||Clever at achieving something indirectly|
|Glittering||Shining with a sparkling light|
|Crouching||Bending one's body into a roll, mostly to hide something|
|Retriever||A dog breed that is mostly trained to find and bring back something|
|Drawing room||The centre of the house where guests or family members come together|
|Reclining||leaning or lying back in a relaxed position|
|Snarling||make an aggressive growl with teeth|
|Scrub||To rub one's face, to clean|
|Quarters||A living space; mostly a small closed space|
|Prophetic||Predicting what will happen in the future|
|Poise||graceful and elegant|
|Dominance||Exerting power over others|
National Council of Educational Research and Training (2007). A Tiger in the House - Ruskin Bond (pp. 58- 65). Published at the Publication Division by the Secretary, National Council of Educational Research and Training, Sri Aurobindo Marg, New Delhi.
*A tiger playing with man: Mehendra_art / Shutterstock.com