Sunday, June 10, 2012

Faithful Tiger

December 2002
Folk Tales from around the world

          This is a story about a kind tiger and a clever woodcutter a long time ago.  One day, the woodcutter was working hard chopping firewood in a thick forest.  As he was working, a tiger suddenly appeared, roaring loud.  The tiger looked hungry.  The woodcutter was very scared.  Suddenly, he came up with an idea.  He moved toward the tiger and shouted, "Oh, my dear brother!"  The tiger was so surprised that its eyes opened wide.  "How can I be your brother?"  the tiger asked.  The woodcutter was so scared but began to talk through his tears.  "You mean you don't recognize me?  A few years ago, you went into the forest to cut trees, but never returned.  We were all worried about you.  Then one day, mom had a dream. In it, you turned into a tiger and forgot that you were once a human being.  And that is why you couldn't come back home.  To this day, mom still worries about you, and wishes for your return.  Now we finally met each other, and you don't even recognize me?  Poor mom!  How sad she would be, if she finds this out!  The woodcutter was so sad that the tiger believed him completely.  "Me, a mom?  And I have a mother waiting for me at home?"   The tiger began to cry.  The tiger believed what the woodcutter said.  The tiger didn't want to show his ugly figure to mom.  And the tiger asked the woodcutter to take care of his mother well instead of him.  So, the woodcutter returned home safely.  The next morning he found a dead wild boar in his front yard.  He wondered with surprise.  As he stepped out into the yard to look around, he heard the low growl of a tiger.  The woodcutter finally realized that it was the tiger who had done this.  After that, the woodcutter found dead animals such as deer, rabbit, etc.  in his front yard once in a while.  The woodcutter was touched by the tiger's warm heart with the help of the tiger, the woodcutter had enough to feed his family, and even to get more; for years, the tiger continued to hunt for the family.  Then one day the woodcutter's mother died; that night, the woodcutter heard the tiger weeping all night long.  From that day, no one saw the tiger again.  Then one day, the woodcutter stopped by his mother's grave after chopping wood in the forest.  To his surprise, there was a scrawny looking tiger lying in front of the grave.  The tiger had been so sad that it couldn't eat anything since her death and was dying beside her because of hunger.  The man rushed to the tiger, shouting, "Oh, dear brother!"  Unlike the last time when he called the tiger "brother" to save his own life, this time he really felt like it was his brother.  Although the tiger had been fooled by the woodcutter, the woodcutter was grateful to the tiger for loving his mother with all his heart.  The tiger said it was the happiest times of my life when I had a chance to hunt food for her.  The tiger died with peaceful tears on his face.  The woodcutter was deeply moved by the tiger's devotion for his mother  The woodcutter buried the tiger next to his mother and took care of both gracefully for the rest of his life.

   -Yeonhee Kang

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