Ajamil and the Tigers

Ajamil and the Tigers :

The tiger people went to their king

and said, ‘We’re starving.

We’ve had nothing to eat,

not a bite,

for 15 days and 16 nights.

Ajamil has got

a new sheep dog.

He cramps our style

and won’t let us get within a mile

of meat.’

‘That’s shocking,’

said the tiger king.

‘Why didn’t you come to see me before?

Make preparations for a banquet.

I’m gonna teach that sheep dog a lesson he’ll never


‘Hear hear,’ said the tigers.

‘Careful,’ said the queen.

But he was already gone.


into the darkness before the dawn.

In an hour he was back,

the good king.

A black patch on his eye.

His tail in a sling.

And said, ‘I’ve got it all planned

now that I know the lie of the land.

All of us will have to try.

We’ll outnumber the son of a bitch

And this time there will be no hitch.

Because this time I shall be leading the attack.’

Quick as lightning

the sheep dog was.

He took them all in as prisoners of war,

the 50 tigers and the tiger king,

before they could get their paws

on a single sheep.

They never had a chance.

The dog was in 51 places all at once.

He strung them all out in a daisy chain

and flung them in front of his boss in one big heap.

‘Nice dog you got there, Ajamil,’

said the tiger king.

Looking a little ill

and spiting out a tooth.

‘But there’s been a bit of a misunderstanding.

We could’ve wiped out your herd in one clean sweep.

But we were not trying to creep up on your sheep.

We feel that means are more important than ends.

We were coming to see you as friends.

And that’s the truth.’

The sheep dog was the type

who had never told a lie in his life

He was built along simpler lines

and he was simply disgusted.

He kept on making frantic signs.

But Ajamil, the good shepherd

refused to meet his eyes

and pretended to believe every single word

of what the tiger king said.

And seemed to be taken in by all the lies.

Ajamil cut them loose

and asked them all to stay for dinner.

It was an offer the tigers couldn’t refuse.

And after the lamb chops and the roast,

when Ajamil proposed

they sign a long term friendship treaty,

all the tigers roared.

‘We couldn’t agree with you more.’

And swore they would be good friends all their lives

as they put down the forks and the knives.

Ajamil signed a pact

with the tiger people and sent them back.

Laden with gifts of sheep, leather jackets and balls of


Ajamil wasn’t a fool.

Like all good shepherds he knew

that even tigers have got to eat some time.

A good shepherd sees to it they do.

He is free to play a flute all day

as well fed tigers and fat sheep drink from the same


with a full stomach for a common bond.

Arun Kolatkar is a contemporary Indian poet. He was educated in Pune and earned a diploma in painting from the J.J. School of arts, Mumbai. He writes both in English and Marathi and has authored two books. The present poem is an excerpt from Jejuri - a long poem in thirty-one sections. A German translation of Jejuri by Gievanen Bandin was published in 1984.

The word POETRY originates from a Greek word meaning TO MAKE. A poet is thus a maker and the poem something that is made or created. No single definition of poetry is possible but some characteristic features of poetry may be mentioned. Poetry has a musical quality with rhythm, pitch, metre and it may use figures of speech such as simile and metaphor. While quite a few poems in this selection are in traditional forms, the unit also includes modern poems that are free from formal restrictions.

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