SUMMARY IN ENGLISH
The Maharaja of Pratibandapuram is the hero of this story. He also came to be known as Tiger King. As soon as he was born, astrologers had foretold that one day the Tiger King would actually have to die. The ten-day-old prince addressed the astrologers as “O wise prophets”. He asked them to tell him the manner of his death. The chief astrologer said that death would come from the Tiger. The prince growled, “Let tigers beware!”
When the crown prince came of age at twenty, his state came into his hands. There were many forests in the Pratibandapuram State. They had tigers in them. The Maharaja started out on a tiger hunt. The Maharaja was thrilled when he killed his first tiger. He sent for the state astrologer. The old man said, “Your majesty may kill ninety-nine tigers in exactly the same manner. But you must be very careful with the hundredth tiger.” The astrologer promised to tear up all his books on astrology and set fire to them, if he killed the hundredth tiger.
The state banned tiger hunting by anyone except the Maharaja. The Maharaja vowed he would attend to all other matters only after killing the hundred tigers. Initially the king seemed well set to realise his ambition. He faced many dangers too. Sometimes the bullet missed its mark. The tiger jumped upon him. He fought the beast with his bare hands. Each time it was the Maharaja who won.
Once he was in danger of losing his throne. A high-ranking British officer visited Pratibandapuram. He was very fond of hunting tigers and fonder of being photographed with the tigers he had shot. He wished to hunt tigers in Pratibandapuram. The Maharaja was firm in his resolve. He refused permission. Since he had prevented a British officer from fulfilling his desire, the Maharaja stood in danger of losing his kingdom itself. The Maharaja and the dewan held deliberations over this issue. About fifty expensive diamond rings of different designs were sent to the British officer’s good lady. The king and the minister expected her to choose one or two rings and send the rest back. But she kept all of them and sent a letter of thanks. The Maharaja was happy that though he had lost three lakh of rupees, he had managed to retain his kingdom.
The Maharaja’s tiger hunt continued to be highly successful. Within ten years he had killed seventy tigers. But then there were no tigers left in Pratibandapuram. One day the Maharaja sent for his Dewan and told him that thirty tigers still remained to be shot down by his gun. He told the Dewan that he had decided to get married. The Dewan found the right girl from a state with a large number of tigers. Each time Maharaja Jung Jung Bahadur visited his father-in-law, he killed five or six tigers. In this way ninety-nine tiger skins adorned the walls of the reception hall in the Pratibandapuram palace.
There remained just one tiger to be killed to reach the figure of a hundred. But the tiger farms had now run dry even in his father-in-law’s kingdom. It became impossible to locate tigers anywhere. The Maharaja was sunk in gloom. Soon he got a happy news. In his own state sheep began to disappear frequently from a hillside village. Surely, a tiger was at work. The villagers ran to inform the Maharaja, but the tiger was not easily found. The Maharaja refused to leave the forest until the tiger was found. Maharaja’s anger and obstinacy rose higher. Many officers lost their jobs.
One day the Tiger King was very angry. He called the Dewan and ordered him to double the land tax forthwith. The Dewan said that the people would become discontented. Then their state too would fall a prey to the Indian National Congress. The king asked the Dewan to resign. The Dewan felt afraid. He felt life returning to him only when he saw the tiger which had been brought from the People’s Park in Madras and kept hidden in his house.
At midnight the town was sleeping in peace. The Dewan and his aged wife dragged the old tiger to the car and shoved it into the seat. The Dewan himself drove the car straight to the forest where the Maharaja was hunting. Now the tiger refused to get out of the car. Somehow the Dewan hauled the beast out of the car and pushed it down to the ground.
On the following day, the same old tiger wandered into the Maharaja’s presence and stood there. It was with boundless joy that the Maharaja took careful aim at the beast. The tiger fell in a crumpled heap. The Maharaja was happy that his vow to kill hundred tigers had been fulfilled. Ordering the tiger to be brought to the capital in grand procession, Maharaja left in his car. After the Maharaja left, the hunters went to take a closer look at the tiger. The tiger rolled its eyes and looked back at them. The men realised that the tiger was not dead. The bullet had missed it. It had fainted from the shock of the bullet whizzing past. One of the hunters took aim from a distance of one foot and shot the tiger. The dead tiger was taken in procession through the town and buried.
A few days later the third birthday of the Maharaja’s son was celebrated. He wished to give him some special gift on his birthday. He spotted a wooden tiger in a toyshop and decided it was the perfect gift. The wooden tiger cost only two annas and a quarter. But the shopkeeper called it a bargain at three hundred rupees. He praised it as an extremely rare example of craftsmanship. Actually, it had been carved by an unskilled carpenter. Its surface was rough. Tiny slivers of wood stood up like quills all over it. When the Maharaja was playing with his son, one of those slivers pierced the Maharaja’s right hand. He pulled it out with his left hand and continued to play with the prince.
The next day, infection flared in the Maharaja’s right hand. In four days, it developed into a sore emitting pus. It spread all over his arm. Three famous surgeons were brought in from Madras. After holding a consultation, they decided to operate. The operation was successful but the Maharaja died.
In this manner the hundredth tiger took its final revenge upon the Tiger King.
- NCERT Revision Notes for Class 12 (All Subjects)
- CBSE Class 12 English Core Notes
- NCERT Solutions for class 12th English Chapter 1 The Tiger King