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‘Razia, the Tigress’ is a poem written by Keki N Daruwalla. It revolves around the life of a tigress named Razia, who is worried for her partner and two cubs for they are in danger of being poached and killed. Wildlife being threatened by humans is portrayed thus in this poem.
About the Poet:
Keki N Daruwalla (1937-) is an eminent Indian poet. Previously a police officer, he is the recipient of several awards including the Sahitya Akademi Award. Famous works of his include ‘The Keeper of the Dead’, ‘Under Orion’, and ‘Love Across the Salt Desert’.
The theme of this poem plundering of natural resources. In his greed, Man was fast depleting it, posing as a danger to nature and wildlife alike.
This poem is divided into eight stanzas consisting of four lines each. It does not follow a rhyme scheme.
The tigress Razia lives alone. Her two cubs haven’t yet been named. Sheru barely played with them And now he’s gone, O what a shame!
The poem begins by stating how Razia, the tigress, is left all alone to tend to her two cubs, obviously newly born for they have not been named yet. Sheru, her partner, hasn’t even played with them and now, she bemoans the fact that he is ‘gone’, most likely poached by hunters.
Sheru was an expert on winds, Knew how they traversed dale and hill, And where they put up for the night When no leaf stirred and all was still.
Here, Sheru’s skills are described by Razia. He had been an expert on winds and the routes they had to take in a hunt. He knew how the wind blew in the night as well, knowing which spot would be still.
He knew his winds, their traffic lanes! He knew the deer would smell him out, If they were down-wind. So he would belly-crawl and crouch
The sentiments of the previous stanzas are again echoed here. Sheru, being the experienced hunter, was perfectly aware that the deer they wished to hunt would smell him out in case they were down wind. Thus, he crouched in wait.
And take a long circular route, Hiding behind bush and shrub Once he knew his scent won’t carry, In a flash he would erupt.
Then, he would take the longer route, hiding, waiting to pounce. When he was certain the deer wouldn’t smell him out, he would strike in a flash.
(Deer hadn’t sniffed that thick and musty Smell of his which people dubbed As tiger-scent.) He got the stag, His claw fell like a giant club
The deer, as Sheru had shrewdly perceived, did not smell what humans called the ‘tiger-scent’. Sheru thus struck his prey with his claw, the force of which seemed akin to that of a giant club.
On neck and antler-both were crushed Now Sheru’s gone. Not any more Do people fear his dreaded spoor, Pug-marked on the forest floor.
His claw crushed both, the neck and antler, of the deer. Such a fierce Sheru was now gone. People were no longer afraid of him, or his footprints, in the forest.
Grief and fear start competing In Razia’s heart. With Sheru gone, Will the hyenas hound her cubs? Can she leave the little ones alone,
Razia knew not whether to despair or fear. Should she grieve for her beloved partner who had gone missing, or lie in fear of hyenas every time she leaves her cubs alone and, as the first line of the next stanza states, goes for hunting food?
When she goes hunting flesh and bone? The tigress Razia lives in fear. A greater dread, when will again The poachers with their guns appear?
The final stanza declares that fear in Razia’s heart wins for there laid an even greater threat- the threat of poachers with their guns, waiting to kill her and leave her cubs all alone to fend for themselves.
This is a very thought-provoking poem. By being told from the perspective of a tiger, a majestic creature lying helpless, the poet draws attention to the dire need of preserving wildlife and put a curb of humans’ greed.