The tiger was getting old. He was a fierce killer when he was young, clawing and tearing animals in the jungle, roaming around like a king with his extended clan. He had made a pact with the other carnivores in the jungle. An army of hyenas was raised and was let loose on the hapless rabbits, deer, buffaloes, zebras and giraffes. Hyenas were usually mindless; they followed order for the pieces of flesh thrown at them at the end of the day. Soon the vultures too entered the pact. They protected the tiger and his clan by gouging out the eyes of deer and buffaloes in case they tried to save themselves and their young ones from the jaws of the tiger clan. There were other carnivores like the snakes and eagles that were always appreciative of the deeds of the clan in a bid to be in the gang’s good books.
The tiger had marked out his jungle and did not appreciate it when animals from the adjoining jungles entered his territory. The hyenas patrolled the jungle and made sure that animals from the nearby areas do not enter the domain of the great Tiger. They would wound any deer that would enter the territory for food. They would chase a heard of giraffes from a nearby jungle who had come to eat leaves from their favorite trees.
“But you don’t even eat leaves!” The giraffes would protest. The hyenas would bite them and tear off their flesh making the giraffes run for their lives.
The animals living in the jungle were terrified. They hailed the tiger when his procession passed through the jungle and when he gave speeches confessing his love for all the animals living in his jungle. He would mark anyone who opposed him as a traitor. He would let loose the hyenas on all his enemies and make the vultures protect his army. Over time, animals gave in to subjugation and went with the flow. No one raised their voices. Even the elephants stopped protesting after a while.
As the tiger grew old, two of his cubs who have now grown into ferocious carnivores ruled in his stead. They were equally ruthless and carried the legacy of their father. The jungle was restless, terrified and clutched helplessly in the paws of the clan and their followers.
And then the old Tiger died.
The whole jungle was closed. The hyenas spread out and did not allow anyone in the fields to eat grass. The birds were shooed away by the vultures into their nests. The rabbits ran to their burrows. The giraffes kept their necks low.
As the burial progression of the old Tiger passed through the jungle, a rabbit whispered her dissent on the way the whole jungle was stopped from functioning because of the death of the Tiger. Another rabbit nodded. All hell broke loose.
The vultures were upon both of them. They picked the shivering rabbits in their claws and took them to their nest atop the hill and shoved them in a small cave. The terrified rabbits were left there the whole night. The hyenas attacked the family of one of the rabbits and destroyed their burrow. Both the rabbits were made to apologize in front of the whole jungle by the vultures and hyenas to appease their masters.
But then something happened which neither the Tiger clan nor their followers had anticipated. As the rabbits finished their apology speech, one of the zebra trotted towards them and quietly stood next to them. Then a deer did the same. Before the vultures and hyenas could realize what was happening, a wave of animals started walking towards the two rabbits raising dust with their hooves and stood next to them. As the cloud of dust settled, the Tiger clan and their followers stood alone, gawking at the whole jungle standing on the other side. They bared their teeth, hurled abuses, stomped their feet but the animals stood their ground. The rabbits heaved a sigh of relief and shed a tear of gratitude.
It did not end there. The Tiger clan, hyenas and the vultures did their best to make the life of the animals miserable for standing against them but deep in their heart, they knew that they were fighting a losing battle. The old Tiger was dead and the animals were angry. Very angry.