© Anindito Mukherjee

Shakti, the tigress was at the Coal Summit in Delhi, with a few friends. Here’s her account of why she made her way to the concrete jungle.

It was a morning like any other day.

I was about to settle down with my two cubs after an eventful night of good hunt and a great meal, when we heard that sound for the first time.

Kaboooom…!! The roar ripped apart the jungle and echoed in-between the mountains. Then once again, this time it kept rumbling for a longer time. That was the beginning of our misery, when the gods decided to invade into our territory.

I knew that sun, air, water and fire are the gods that along with mother earth take care of all the animals, insects, reptiles, birds, plants and yes, also humans. Humans were part of the same large family of a wonderful life force spread around this beautiful world. However, with time humans learnt to control sun, air, water, fire, and this made them think that they are equal to gods. At least that is what some of them made us believe in.

Now these new gods have gained sole ownership over this planet. They do whatever they want without worrying about any consequences. Since then it has become a rough time for all other habitats. It seems these gods are angry for some reason unknown to us. Coming back to what happened that morning.

Kaboooom…!!

That was the sound of the gods ripping apart the surface of the earth. They have come to dig out the coal stored inside; they need it to generate energy.

My cubs, about thirteen months old then, took position around me, anticipating danger. It was a proud moment for a mother to witness that her training was paying off, but they were still too young and too inexperienced.

It was not a onetime fight that you either win over or lose out to; it was a question of our existence. Not only for us, but also for the entire life force including those humans whose livelihoods depend on mountains and forests.

Those who could not escape the wrath of the gods simply ceased to exist. How could they be so selfish, insensitive and cruel? Why do they need coal when there is an abundance of solar energy available? We were fortunate to get time to move off further from the blast that day; many those we knew of, could not.

Now I hear that this is not the end of it, but only the beginning of a new era of advancement. This means more mines are going to come up in the near future. If that happens, I do not know where to go. As our forests are shrinking, day-by-day, so are we in numbers. They continue to ignore the impact they have on our kind. Pure indifference, greed and selfishness.

When I came to know that they are going to hold such meetings every two years, I decided to prepare myself to meet the gods during their next meet. In the last two years, I waited for this day, while being displaced now and then. Meanwhile, I lost my family and friends and finally my cubs. My biggest regret remains to be, that I could not complete their training before we were separated. I do not know where they are now.

Then finally came the day I was waiting for. It is inside a huge building within a crowded, polluted, concrete jungle where the gods are going to gather, deciding our fate. This structure is famous for wish fulfillment, and I had a feeling that if I can reach up to them face to face, they will let me speak and explain my concerns.

At last, I sneaked into that structure the night before the meeting and quietly hid myself in the basement. I could not risk coming during the day fearing what I would do if they do not let me enter at all. Then the next morning when the meeting began, I waited for an opportunity to enter the meeting hall. During the first tea break, I could see some of the gods coming out from the hall and that is when I decided to step out from the hiding.


© Anindito Mukherjee

I walked straight down the corridor and turned right moving towards the main entry to the hall as they spotted me. They stopped my way telling me that I cannot go any further. I pleaded with folded paws – Hey gods, I have come from a great distance just to say that our existence is at stake, about the blast that happened near our home, how my cubs were separated from me, the lives those are at risk because of your decision and to consider some alternative to coal mining, I know you can stop our misery only hear me once what I have to say.

No gods listened to me, none even wanted to. Ultimately, they made me move out of their structure gate. Curious people stopped to watch as I quietly stood by the roadside. Some even came forward and took selfies with me.


© Anindito Mukherjee

Now I will have to wait for two more years for the gods to meet. That is when; I am going to attempt entering the meeting hall and put forward my petition again. That time, I am going to have my newborn cubs by my side, and any other animal from the jungle or the city who wishes to stand by my cause.

Meanwhile, whoever you are, wherever you are, please share my story with your fellow humans.

I know not all humans claim themselves to be gods. In fact, there were some people at the building who tried to help me out, but could only take me as far as the hall gate.

They are my hope and encouragement. At least now I know, that I am not alone. Shakti – The Tigress

Shakti as the Tigress ghostwritten by Koushik Chattopadhyay, a volunteer with Greenpeace India in New Delhi