Stories For Thing

The Scary Tiger

on March 3, 2013

TigerIllustration

 

I am a tiger.

I have big teeth like daggers, long, sharp claws, huge and powerful paws, and a tail like a whip.

I am a fearsome beast.

So why is nobody afraid of me?

All the other tigers say they have scared hundreds of people. They tell stories about going into a house full of humans and running around, snarling and growling. Everyone hides in a cupboard or jumps out the window or crawls under the table, screaming with terror.

Raja is the top tiger in our pack, and he tells the most exciting stories. Once, he said, he went into a famous movie star’s home – past the security guards and everything – and scared the movie star’s whole family, even though the movie star had seen lots of tigers before. The movie star’s son, a boy named Abbas, ran into his room and jumped into bed with the covers all up around his face, even though it was still daytime. Raja the big scary tiger left the movie star’s house with a smug smile on his face. “A job well done,” he said.

Raja makes it sound so easy. But it doesn’t work like that for me.

I don’t know why. I am not as big as Raja but I am still pretty big. My teeth aren’t as shiny as Raja’s but they are still pretty shiny. My claws aren’t as sharp as Raja’s but they are still pretty sharp. And my paws aren’t as powerful as Raja’s but they are still pretty powerful. (One part of me that is even better than Raja is my fur, which has so many lovely stripes nobody can count them all.)

But last time I tried to scare some humans in their house, they all just smiled and carried on eating their dinner. I growled and snarled and snapped and gnashed but they just kept on eating.

One of the grown-up humans said, “Isn’t that a beautiful tiger, children?”

And the smaller humans all said, “Yes, she’s very beautiful.”

But I didn’t want them to think I was beautiful. I wanted them to think I was scary. I ran out of the house and back to Raja and all the other tigers but I was too embarrassed to tell them what had happened.

Raja boasted that he was going to scare the family of a famous cricket player that night. “Not even the best player in the world can face me!” he boasted.

I feel like an idiot. I wonder, are my teeth and claws not as sharp as I think they are? All I have are these silly stripes, and they aren’t much use for scaring humans.

Right, then. Tonight I’m going to find out why Raja and the other tigers are so scary. I’m going to go to that movie star’s home and ask his son Abbas what Raja did that scared him so much. Then maybe I can be scary too.

I creep along outside the wall of the movie star’s home. The guards don’t notice me because I am very quiet. I check up and down the street to make sure no one is looking, then I leap gracefully on top of the wall and down onto the other side.

I am so quiet, I don’t even make a sound.

I slink along silently through the movie star’s garden, which is full of big trees and pretty flowers. I want to stop and look at the flowers but then I remember why I’m here, so I carry on up to the house.

There’s another security guard patrolling around the outside of the house. I wait until he’s by the front door then I run round the side of the house, searching for a room that looks like a little boy’s. One room has big posters of rock bands. I keep searching. One room has photographs of the movie star on the set of his movies. I keep searching. One room has a poster of a rocket ship, a lot of picture books on a bookshelf, and a small bed by the window. This is the one. The window is open and I climb in carefully.

Abbas is there, sleeping. I gently step down onto his bed and it creaks loudly. Abbas wakes up. He looks straight at me for a few seconds and I think he’s going to scream, but instead he smiles and says, “Hello.”

I am a bit shocked. “Hello,” I say back to him.

“What are you doing here?” asks Abbas. “I’ve never had a tiger on my bed before.”

“And I’ve never been on a human’s bed before,” I reply. “I want to know why you don’t find me scary. All the other tigers tell stories about how scary they are and how humans run away from them and hide and scream, but humans never do that for me and I can’t understand it.”

Abbas stops smiling. He thinks for a moment. Then he simply says, “I don’t find tigers scary.”

“What?” I say, even more shocked than before.

“Tigers aren’t scary!” says Abbas, smiling again. “I think tigers are beautiful. There’s only ever been one in this house before, but we gave him some food and a cuddle and he left again soon after. Nobody was scared.”

“That’s Raja,” I say. I couldn’t believe what Abbas was saying “You fed Raja and gave him a cuddle?”

“Yes!” says Abbas. “He was very nice. He wasn’t as beautiful as you, though.”

I try not to smile when Abbas says this but I can’t help it. My mouth spreads wide and I show my big, sharp, shiny teeth by accident. Abbas isn’t scared, though.

“And look at you, sitting here on my bed,” says Abbas. “You aren’t being scary, and I’m not scared of you. Instead, you’re being friendly, and you’re my friend.”

“You’re my friend, too,” I say back. “I think all the other tigers have been lying to me. They tell me they go to houses like this one and scare all the humans inside. Raja told me he came to this house and you got so scared that you went to bed in the middle of the day.”

Abbas laughs and shakes his head. “That’s funny,” he says. “Yes, I think all the other tigers have been lying to you.”

Suddenly, I feel sad. Very sad, in fact. Why would all the tigers lie to me? Abbas sees that I am sad and asks what’s wrong.

“I don’t think the other tigers like me very much if they’ve been lying to me all this time,” I say.

“Nonsense,” says Abbas. He reaches out and strokes the fur on my back. It feels nice and I feel a bit better. “They are lying to you because they want to impress you.”

“I don’t understand,” I say.

“Sometimes, people try to make themselves sounds bigger or more important than they really are. It seems tigers do the same thing,” says Abbas. “They lie about coming into people’s houses and scaring all the humans because it makes them sound big and important. And now you think they are big and important, even though they’re really just tigers like you.”

“I see,” I reply. It’s all starting to make sense.

“So you are not very scary, I’m afraid,” says Abbas. “But you are friendly, and beautiful. Perhaps you should just be happy with that.”

This really makes me smile. “Thank you very much for helping me,” I say to Abbas.

“You’re welcome!” he replies. “Come and play with me during the day sometime.”

“I will,” I reply. And I hop out the window and slink quietly through the garden, past the trees and flowers, until I reach the wall, and I jump silently on top of it and over the other side back into the street.

I go back to all the other tigers. As usual, Raja is telling another story about scaring a house full of humans. He has every tiger’s attention as he spins a tale of terror.

I think back to what Abbas told me about how he fed Raja and gave him a cuddle. As Raja talks about scaring another terrified little boy tonight, I know that Raja probably just got food and a cuddle. This makes me smile.

By Barnaby ‘Kiwichettan’ HM


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