The Parable of the Sleeping Tiger

A long time ago in a land far away there lived a tiger, who had been hunting for two long days. He was very tired. So he decided to lie down in the shade of a mango tree, underneath some cool foliage, and take a nap. He fell asleep.

Presently, he became aware that something sharp kept poking into his haunches. He opened one eye to see a little squirrel digging his claws into his side.

“Say, little squirrel, what are you doing?” asked the wise tiger, who could not fault the dimwitted rodent for poking a sleeping tiger.

“I’m feeling your muscles, to see how fine they are.”

“Well, little squirrel,” said the tiger, flexing his paw, “feel my arm and then go away. I have been hunting for two days, and I am tired. I want to sleep.”

So the squirrel felt the tiger’s muscle and said, “Thank you, Mr. Tiger. You’re very strong, but not as strong as the tiger in my glen.”

The tiger snorted, for it made no difference to him which was the stronger, and he went back to sleep.

Soon he was awakened to the feeling of his fur being rubbed the wrong way. He opened one eye. “Say, little squirrel, what are you doing now? You’re rubbing my fur the wrong way, and it hurts.”

“Oh, no, I’m not rubbing your fur the wrong way. I’m testing the resilience of the hair fibers.”

The tiger said, “Call it what you will—stop doing it.”

“Mr. Tiger!” cried the squirrel even as he continued to stroke the tiger the wrong way, “why are you angry with me? I have done nothing!”

“You have awakened me, and you are rubbing me the wrong way. Please leave me to sleep, as I have been hunting for two days and I am tired. You have tested the resilience of my fur long enough to know now.”

“Well,” huffed the squirrel, “your fur isn’t nearly so resilient as that of the tiger in my glen.”

The tiger said nothing to that, understanding that the squirrel seemed even less clever now than he did before. “Go away, little squirrel. You are in my glen now, and I would sleep.” So he did.

It wasn’t long before the tiger awoke to find little squirrel fists full of his hair, being plucked. “Little squirrel,” said the tiger, beginning to lose his patience, “I thought I told you to leave me be. Did you not understand that I have been hunting, and I am tired? Do you not understand that I could gobble you up if you anger me?”

“Well! I never!” pronounced the squirrel. “How dare you be angry with a little squirrel like me. I have done nothing to you!”

The tiger tried to be patient, as it was clear to him that the rodent had no sense. “You have awakened me three times. When I have told you of my wish to sleep, you have poked my haunches, rubbed me the wrong way, and pulled my fur out of my skin. How can you say you have done nothing? Begone, rat, before I eat you.”

The squirrel was much offended. He glared at the tiger, propped his fists on his flanks, and said, “Well, in any case, your fur is easier plucked than that of the tiger in my glen!”

“Then go torture him and leave me be so I can sleep.” And he did.

No sooner had he fallen asleep than tiny rodent teeth bit down into the tender flesh of his ear. He awoke with a roar that deafened even himself.

The little squirrel scampered just out of reach and the tiger, rubbing his ear, said, “You really are not very bright, are you?”

“How dare you!” squeaked the squirrel as he danced an angry jig. “I have not lowered myself to calling you names! How petty you are! The tiger in my glen is not petty!”

The tiger would have ignored the rodent as had been his intention all along, but for the gleam of wicked intent he glimpsed in the small black eyes.

He comprehended at last. The squirrel was not stupid—just disturbed and wicked. “You have been bothering me on purpose.”

“I have not!” said the squirrel. “I have been comparing you to my tiger. How dare you not let me interrupt your sleep when you are out here in the open, at the mercy of just any squirrel. How dare you accuse me of bad things.”

“Well,” said the tiger thoughtfully. “Did you get what you were after?”

“Oh yes!” replied the squirrel with much glee.

“Good. Then you won’t mind—”

And the tiger snarfed him down. Licking his chops, the poor tiger finally got some sleep.

©2001 by Moriah Jovan

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.