My father and I would walk up the monolith. At the top, looking out at the other side – an expanse of trees that emanated a frail, lonely, abandoned air – he would tell me about the tiger who lived there. As my eyes searched for the tiger both apprehension and anticipation would grip me. That was thirty years ago.

I stand here once again, alone. I look for the rock sliding into a tree copse. Ah, but memory is fickle. The scene exists only in the child who believed in the tiger lurking among trees. And she is still in there waiting for the sinewy cat to show itself.

***

LB 1

The Lal Bagh Botanical Garden is an ornamental garden. The monolith that has been classified as a Peninsular Gneiss is 3000 years old. It is 7am, the sun is still choosing the day’s colour for the sky, and the place is already crawling with people and a few dogs.

LB 2

Atop this rock, sits one of the watch towers erected by Kempegowda I to mark the limits of Bangalore. The city outgrew these limits a long time ago.

LB 3

A child runs down the hillock barefoot just as we did as children. It is easier with your shoes off, and the rock feels both firm and cool against the feet.

LB 4

There are morning walkers who are catching up on gossip post-walk. Groups of tourists are guided by tour operators.

LB 5

Some are trying to meditate. Like this man who sat away from the crowd. A plumeria tree with buttery blooms stood a little distance from him.

LB 6

Vidhana Soudha, which could once be seen from a certain point, is no longer visible. Instead there are hazy, nondescript buildings rising up in the distance.

LB 7

Solitude does not wrap you here. How then will the tiger appear? It is time to go.

© Anuradha Prasad, 2016

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