Dire Future of Prince
The story is set in the kingdom of Pratibandapuram. The infant prince is marked at birth with a dire prophecy of being wounded to death by an animal.
Worried by the prediction, the prince learned to conquer his demons. He is raised with a silver spoon and trained in the best mannerisms and etiquettes.
He became king when he turned 20 years of age. As soon as he took control of the seat of power, he went on a murderous streak. The King’s campaigns were harsh and violent. Hunting the jungle cats (tiger) within the kingdom becomes only a royal pursuit.
Seeing his obsession, the priests warned him that no matter how many tigers he killed, he would find his end at the paws of one ultimately.
Soon the Maharaja’s state lost its entire tiger population. Therefore, he thought of various ways to continue his obsession. Eventually, he married a queen whose region was known for its faunal reserves. He made a point of hunting on his stays at his in-laws.
One day a colonial visitor (English) was denied permission to hunt by the eccentric king. His request to take the dead carcass was also dismissed.
As a form of resolving the enmity, the king offered a trove of bejeweled rings to the officer’s spouse which she accepted. Thus, the king’s kingdom was saved from British annexation.
However, the obsession now turned wild and uncontrolled. With the king stuck at the number of one short of the century, the affairs of the state were stranded and the officers were being dismissed by a restless king. The prime minister of the king was given an ultimatum as well.
His Uncontrolled Obsession
Using his brains, he decided to bring the animal tamed in a zoo. He secretly let the tiger wander in the cross-hairs of his regent. The helpless animal was then killed by the king.
The kill was celebrated throughout the kingdom as a moment to relief and euphoria. In reality, the king had misfired and the animal had just fainted. Wary of king’s delight, the people did not reveal the truth and killed the tiger on their own.
Prophecy Came True
The state resumed its normal functioning. The king celebrated with his young son with pomp. He bought him an overpriced figurine of the animal as a toy.
While playing with it, a chunk broke off and got stuck in the king’s hand. The king ignored the seemingly little injury but it turned into an ugly wound. The injury got so bad that it caused his premature death.
The wheel of fate turned its destined direction and the king met his fateful demise at the paws of a tiger, albeit a wooden one.
The story satirizes the arrogance, superstition, and contumacy of a King who is obsessed with a fear of death. As an appendage, the story also decries the merciless murders of animals (here tigers) in the name of sport or play. In the end, poetic justice was delivered by a wooden tiger.