The Orphan and the Tiger

Once upon a time, there lived an orphan boy, Daw Butshu, in a faraway village. He was poor and survived on fish that he would catch from a nearby river.

One day, when he went fishing, a ferocious tiger was drinking water by the river.

“What are you doing here?” asked the tiger.
“I came to catch some fish,” replied the boy, terrified.
“What are you going to do with the fish?” asked the tiger.
“I survive on fish. It’s the most delicious food one can ever eat,” Daw Butshu told the tiger.
The tiger was fascinated.

“Can I use your fishing hook to catch some fish? I want to try it myself,”  asked the tiger.
Daw Butshu was reluctant. He refused to give his fishing gears to the tiger. When the tiger threatened him, Daw Butshu surrendered his hook and fled home. The tiger stood on a rock by the river, fishing all day long but caught no fish. By the end of the day, the tiger was so exhausted, it fell in the river.

“That boy fooled me. I will kill him,” thought the tiger.

On his way back, the tiger saw Daw Butshu extracting gum from a tree trunk.

“You deceived me! I almost drowned in the river, forget about catching fish,” growled the tiger.

“Oh, king of the jungle, the boy you met at the river must be Gang Dawla. I am a different person. My name is Pin Dawla.”

The tiger apologized for mistaking him for the other boy.

“What are you doing here?” the tiger asked him.

“I am extracting gum. With this gum, one can go to heaven without having to die,” the boy replied.

The tiger was fascinated.
“I want to try it,” said the tiger. “Apply this thoroughly in your eyes and mouth when you go to sleep. The next morning you will be in heaven,” the boy explained. The happy tiger took the gum and went home. The tiger followed Daw Butshu’s instructions and went to sleep. The next morning, the tiger’s eyelids were stuck and would not open. It took a long while before the gum gave way and the tiger could open his eyes. He was furious.

The tiger went in search of the boy. Far up in the mountain, the tiger saw him near a beehive, holding a large drum in his hand.

“Now, I am really going to kill you. You almost made me go blind, forget about visiting heaven,” shouted the tiger.

“Come on, king of the jungle, the one you met must be Pin Dawla. I am Phacho-Dawla,” Daw Butshu explained.

“I am sorry, I must have mistaken you for someone else,” begged the tiger. “So, what are you up to?”

“When I am hungry, I just beat this drum and all kinds of food appear from it,” explained the boy, pointing to the beehive.

The tiger was fascinated. The tiger wanted to try it again.

The next morning, the tiger stood below the beehive and beat the drum. Bees swarmed onto the tiger and stung him.
Infuriated, the tiger went in search of the boy. The tiger spotted Daw Butshu near a tall cliff with few baskets around him.

“I will not leave you today. Those bees almost killed me, forget getting food,” growled the tiger.

The boy explained that the tiger was by far the wisest animal in the animal kingdom and said he should be wise enough to recognize people. “That must have been Phacho Dawla. I am Brokpa Dawla and I have five countries to look after,” explained the boy, pointing to the five baskets around him.

“If you kill me, my people might wage wars on you. Do you think you can fight them back?”

The tiger begged pardon for mistaking him for someone else.

“Can I have some baskets?” requested the tiger.

“I cannot trust you. I do not want to risk my people, but you can be under me,” replied the boy.

The tiger agreed and the boy locked the tiger in the basket tightly. He carried it to the summit of the tall cliff and flung it over the cliff. When the basket landed far down below, the king of the jungle was smashed into pieces.

Ngawang Phuntsho

He is the author of ‘The Cuckoo and the Pigeon, and Other stories’ a collection of folktales from Bhutan, and ‘Thus, I heard’. His books can be found in bookstores in Thimphu.