The elusive Tiger God of Sunderbans was there in front of us. We all froze for a few seconds as it gingerly walked on the mudflats , a small jump to cross the roots projecting out-there was no noise . A few whispers were all the eardrums could pick up as the entire surroundings seem to have been engulfed in the silence of the tiger’s walk. It was as if we were offering our prayers to the mystical God who has ruled Sunderban for centuries.
Raindrops started pouring on our cameras – no we did not stop. The Tiger did not stop its journey either-it walked and walked through the dense vegetation of hental and bine till the river channel came. Now what? Will it cross?
Slowly but surely it made its way into the water as the orange coat gradually changed its colour -it became wet and it turned black with the layer of mud waters imposing themselves. It was a dream come true to see a Sunderban tiger swimming -the soothing breeze and the moderate drizzle lent a heavenly touch to all that was on display at that moment. The tiger suddenly made a u-turn while midway in the river as it swam back to the side it came from (No one knows for sure why it did so). As it prepared to move out of water it gave one final look towards everyone perhaps to say “Goodbye”.
His coat was so much soaked in water that droplets started falling off his tail , his chin, his entire body. It was a dream come true to see the champion swimmer (doesn’t matter even if he did not cross the channel) slowly make his way onto the mudflats and disappear into the hental trees as swiflty as he had come without ruffling a leaf without breaking a branch! Few seconds after the sighting the place wore a deserted look with the footprints set to be washed away by the rising water of the tides.
Note – Sincere thanks to GoingWild team of Soumyajit and Tamanud, guide Ashok Mondal, boatman Gopal and all the crew for making this experience possible.
-Suddhasattwa Das and Niladri Kundu