The Trapped Tiger

There was once a man who lived in a small village, where nothing happened. One day, this man got bored and turned to his wife.

“Wife,” he said. “There has to me more to life than this village, I am going to go out into the world and see what there is to see.”

So, leaving his wife and children, the man set off. He went here, he went there, he went everywhere. He saw castles and palaces, prairies and forests. He saw men that ate fire and women that danced on ice. The man saw everything the world had to offer and after a while, he said… “I’m bored and I miss my wife.”

So, he headed back to his village. On the way home, the man came across a tiger in a cage. Now, the man had been all around the world, but he had never come across a tiger in a cage before.

“This is new,” he said to himself. “But why would anyone lock up a tiger?” He called into the cage. “Hey! What did you do to get locked up?”

The tiger ignored him.

“I think people should see this…” The man took out his camera. He wanted to show the world that someone had locked up a tiger – it really wasn’t acceptable. He also wanted the world to know it was him who had found her, so he positioned himself in front of the bars, to take a selfie. The only problem was, the tiger was curled up in the corner of the cage and not in shot.

“Excuse me, Mrs Tiger,” the man said. “Would you mind coming and standing behind me for a photo.”

The tiger yawned and stood up. It positioned itself behind the man and gave a sharp-toothed grin as the camera snapped its shot.

The man was very pleased with the picture.

“I’m going to show this to the authorities and you’ll soon be free,” the man said.

The tiger licked her lips. “Or… you could let me out yourself,” she said.

The man considered this idea. If he let her out, he would be a hero. His hand hovered over the cage lock. Then he grinned and wagged his finger at the Tiger. “Oh, no, no, no. You’re a tiger. If I let you out of this cage, you’ll eat me.”

The Tiger purred. “I won’t. I’m not like that.”

But the man had learned a thing or two on his travels. “Uh, uh. I know your type. You eat people. That’s why you’ve got those big sharp teeth.”

The tiger sighed. “OK, you got me. I was going to eat you… but please, let me out. I promise I won’t eat you.”

The tiger looked at the man with big sad eyes. The man felt sorry for her. A great animal like her shouldn’t be locked in a tiny, weeny cage. Then again, she did have very big, sharp claws.

“No,” he said eventually. “I really don’t think I should. You’re a tiger after all. I can’t trust you.”

The tiger sat down, her tail twitched back and forth. “I understand,” she sighed. “I just miss the outside world. I miss the jungle and I miss my cubs…” The tiger began to cry.

“You have cubs?” The man hadn’t known she had cubs.

“I haven’t seen them in ages,” the tiger replied. “I expect they’ll soon forget me.”

The man felt awful. He had his own children that he hardly ever saw. Sometimes he worried they would forget him too. “I’m so sorry,” the man said.

“It’s not your fault,” the tiger replied. “You didn’t lock me in here. But…” she said. “You could let me out. Maybe it’s not too late for my cubs…”

The man’s hand hovered over the cage lock. “You promise not to eat me?” he asked.

The tiger promised. “What kind of animal would I be, to eat you after you showed me such kindness?”

She had a point. It would be a beastly thing to eat someone that had been so kind. The man decided to let the tiger out of the cage. He unlocked the door.

“Thank you,” the tiger licked her lips and prowled out of the cage around the man. “You know, I haven’t eaten properly in weeks.”

The man backed away. “But you’re not going to eat me. You promised.”

The tiger grinned, showing her sharp teeth. “Did I?”

The man gulped. Perhaps he’d made a terrible mistake. “You wouldn’t, would you?”

The tiger edged towards him. “I’m a tiger. You said so yourself, I eat people.”

“Wait!” said the man, clambering up a tree. “That’s not fair! I let you out of the cage.”

The tiger sat at the bottom of the tree and sharpened her claws. “What did you expect? You can’ trust a tiger. You must accept your fate.”

“Nope!” said the man, shaking his head. “This is wrong. You can’t eat me after I let you out of the cage.”

The tiger contemplated his argument. “Very well,” she said at last. “Let us ask three judges. If they agree that I should not eat you, I will let you go.”

The man sighed with relief. Then looked around for a first judge. “Tree!” he said, to the tree he was sitting in. “Is it fair that the tiger eats me, after I showed her kindness and let her out of the cage?”

The tree was pleased to be asked. People rarely bothered to ask her opinion on anything. “Tell me,” she said. “Is it fair that I shelter people from the sun all day, but as soon as they need food for their cattle, they rip of my branches and feed them to their animals?”

The man had never really thought about it. But, now that she mentioned it, he guessed, no, it wasn’t fair at all.

“Life’s not fair,” the tree said. “Accept your fate.”

The tree shook her branches, making the man fall to the ground. The tiger growled. The man backed away. “I’ve still got two more judges.” The man looked around and saw a buffalo. “Buffalo,” he said. “Is it fair that the tiger eats me, after I showed her kindness and let her out of the cage?”

The buffalo snorted. “Fair! Is it fair that I give my milk to people all my life and now I am too old to give milk, they make me walk around and around all day long, turning this wheel?”

The man had never really thought about it. But, now that she mentioned it, he guessed, no, it wasn’t fair at all.

 “Life’s not fair!” the buffalo said. “Accept your fate.”

The Tiger licked her lips. “Wait!” said the man. “I still have one more judge to ask.” He looked around for someone that would be on his side. “Road,” he said. “Is it fair that the tiger eats me, after I showed her kindness and let her out of the cage?”

“Fair!” said the road. “Is it fair that I show people the right way to go and, for my trouble, all I get are fumes, litter and people trampling all over me. Is that fair?”

The man had never really thought about it. But, now that she mentioned it, he guessed, no, it wasn’t fair at all.

 “Life’s not fair!” the road said. “Accept your fate.”

The tiger stood up and prowled towards the man.

“All that time I was trapped in that cage,” the tiger said, “I dreamed about having a good meaty meal.”

This was it, thought the man. The end of him. He would never see his wife and children again. The man closed his eyes… then a jackal came wandering by.

“What’s happening here, then?” the jackal asked.

The man opened his eyes and explained: “The tiger was trapped in a cage. I let her out. Now she’s going to eat me.”

The jackal cocked his head to one side and let out a little whine. “Hmm. Nah, sorry. I don’t get it.”

So, the man explained again. “The tiger was locked in a cage I let her out. Now she’s going to eat me.”

The Jackal looked from the cage, to the tiger, then back to the cage again. “The tiger’s going to eat the cage?”

 “No,” said the man. “Listen. The tiger was locked in a cage. I let her out. Now she’s going to eat me.”

“Oh right,” the Jackal nodded. “You’re going to eat the cage.”

“What?” the man shook his head. “No. The tiger was locked in a cage. I let her out. Now she’s going to eat me.”

The jackal looked at the tiger and looked at the man again. “Nah, I don’t get it.”

Then the tiger lost her temper. “It’s quite simple, empty head,” she said. “I was locked in the cage.”

“Which cage?” the Jackal asked.

“That cage, mushy brains!” the Tiger pointed to the huge cage behind her.

You were in that cage?” said the jackal, pointing to the man.

“No! Idiot.” the Tiger roared. “I was in that cage.”

But Jackal was scratching his head. “Where were you?” he said to the tiger.

The tiger prowled over to the cage. “I was here,” she said. “In this cage.”

“Oh, you were outside the cage.” the Jackal said.

“No!” roared the tiger. “I was inside the cage.”

The jackal looked at the empty cage, then at the tiger and back to the cage. “Nah. I don’t get it,” he said.

The tiger took a deep breath and tried not to roar. “It’s really quite simple, numskull” she said. “I was in the cage, like this.” The tiger stepped into the cage.

“Oh!” said the Jackal. “You were inside the cage.”

“Yes,” the tiger sighed.

“And was the door locked, like this?” the jackal locked the cage door.

“Yes,” the tiger said. “Exactly.”

“And what is it you are going to do?” the jackal said.

The tiger licked her lips. “I’m going to eat that man.”

“Why?”

“Because he was foolish enough to let me out of the cage,” the tiger said.

The jackal grinned at the tiger. “But you’re still locked in the cage.”

The tiger paused. “Yeh, but…”

The jackal handed the key to the man.

The tiger roared. “That’s not fair!”

But the man grinned. “Life’s not fair,” he said. “Accept your fate.”

The man took a selfie with the jackal and the tiger roaring behind him. When he got home, he made sure the authorities knew where to find the tiger, so they could return her to her cubs, which is exactly what they did. He had come to realise that knew things weren’t necessarily good things. From that day on he stayed home with his family and made the most of every day he had with them.

 

The End