Once upon a Tiger

There’s something to be said about the mind. It hops randomly between disconnected triggers, and out bulges a memory. MM’s post on fancy dress competitions brings me to this.

Till a certain age, committing anything to memory was never a problem for me. I guess that age was probably eight. Given that most of what one learns till that age ends up being in a sing-song sort of way, I never remember being nervous about reciting. But one fancy-dress competition changed all that. At the School Winter Fair, a fancy dress competition was to be taken part in. The trick of course was that not only did you have to dress up as something, but also had to say a few lines on the microphone.

A flood of pink, most of my female classmates had decided to come in as fairies. They wore pink frilly frocks and their parents had wisely attached two gossamer like wings to some part of their arms or backs. They came in and many of them said something or the other about being beautiful, flying about, fluttering, and fulfilling wishes with their magic wands. In one corner was one sullen looking tiger. That tiger was me.

My parents never quite understood fairies I think. So I was dressed up as a tiger. My mother had bought brand new black socks to be worn on my hands and feet, so they would look like paws. My father crafted some beautiful lines -“Rrroarrrr. I am a tiger from Jim Corbett Park. Ggrrrooooaarrr. Some tigers can also be maneaters. But I will be your friend. Gggrrooooooaarrrrr.”. I don’t remember much of it. But it was about 30 seconds long. This overwhelming presence of pink, and being shoved on stage by the uncooperative class teacher, resulted in a rather scared tiger. I said “Roar”. And kept quiet. Then mumbled about being from Jim Corbett Park. Confused, and suddenly very hot in that outfit. I was one muddled-up, confused tiger.

It’s not easy being the odd one out. Especially if you are terrifyingly yellow with black stripes, and in a sea of pink. For some reason many of the boys came in as Sherlock Holmes. Their parents probably found a coat – and stitched up the sleeves to make it look like the gloomy overcoat. I took some consolation in the fact that they all couldn’t pronounce Sherlock Holmes right, or looked rather funny in oversized coats. Or that the girls were beginning to get all itchy, cold and uncomfortable in their frills. Being yellow and stripey, with black sock paws to keep me warm was suddenly not so awful at all.

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16 Comments

Filed under Photographs, Self

16 Responses to Once upon a Tiger

  1. Most charming. Promise.
    I took part in several fancy dress type contests too and I usually sold vegetables or fruits. Though one year, when I was in Allahabad, the class-teacher insisted that I become a ‘Madrasi’. Because she was guru and not blogger, one forgave her! :D
    And may be it is because I mostly grew up in small town North Indian towns, we had no frilly girls. There was usually an abudance of maids, gardeners, farmers and so on. Very hard-working lot.

  2. The problem with growing up in North India is, fancy dress competition have no Subramanya Barathi or Thiruvalluvar. Or, Auvvayar.

  3. Tiger looks pretty happy :)

  4. Hahaha. Ahem. All serious now. That pic looks really sweet. I commend your courage for choosing to post it. I refuse to show my childhood pictures to anybody.. I look so goofy (Well, I don’t show my pictures now for the same reason).

    Do you still have the dress? Halloween is around the corner you know :p (They do celebrate Halloween in UK don’t they?)

  5. At the risk of being bitten, may I say you look adorable. Lovely post too :) Confused tiger indeed.

  6. km

    And who’s the half-eaten prey at your side?

  7. You look so cute! You should have got first prize over all those fairies!

  8. hey…where’d my last comment go?? tigers shudn’t eat comments, y’know :P

  9. you know.. that is one of the best costumes i’ve ever come across. you mean you didnt get first prize? a pity.

  10. Hahahaha…all the trauma our parents subjected us to!! The pic captures your mood and matches the post well!

  11. Vi

    Aaha..this answers my question on this photo on flickr.

  12. CW

    That’s one chweet tiger. How did sweet tiger mouth roooaar..don’t go together in my mind.

  13. hey dude — Halloween is just round the corner and so this is a good time for this post.

    Fancy dress, quel term!!!

  14. Athavathu this jillu person is in/has been to Amrikka.

    Thaangalai.

  15. aiyyo Nilu — enthukku poramai?

  16. Zhu

    Ah, those childhood trauma… being the odd one, being different is hard for a young kid. You look cute though !