My husband introduced me to the wonders of jungles and wildlife soon after we got married. We made our first “jungle trip” to Bandipur in South India. After some basics on safari etiquette, we set out for our early morning adventure. I was in high spirits, hoping to catch a tiger sighting, which the husband explained would be possible only with a generous dose of serendipity.
After about half an hour into the jungle, my jeep slowed down as we crossed a manmade watering hole. After a couple of minutes of recon, our guide signalled to us to look at a tree by the far end of the water body. There is was! Perched on the branch of a tree, perfectly camouflaged, was a leopard! Only the twitch of its tail gave it away. We used the binoculars to get a clear view and zoomed in to catch a glimpse of the face.
What I saw through those lenses will be a memory that I will carry to my grave. I remember trying not to breathe as hard in the fear of inciting the leopard; as if it were right in front of me, looking directly into my eyes. This is the moment when I understood what William Blake intended to convey when he wrote “Tyger Tyger, burning bright”. Those blazing eyes, those chiselled features, a gaze so powerful, so piercing, menacing and beautiful all at the same time.