© Tigers in the Night

Now that I have my own kids, I can see why you need to use every single opportunity to instil the values that they need. But as a kid, that’s not always the reassurance I wanted. Like the night with the tigers in my room.

I was about four years old and shared the room with my sister that was still very small. In other words no help in a fight-for-your-life situation. Plus I was older than her and would have been expected to tackle the fight on her behalf. Our bedroom was next to my parent's room. Every night we went to bed with lights out, but the door was left open and the light in the corridor was left on so that we wouldn’t be scared or if we needed to go to the bathroom. This was supposed to reassure us and not to be afraid of the dark.

We had these small kiddy beds that weren't too high. Absolutely fantastic when it comes to the falling-of-the-bed thing, but if the tigers are roaming around your room it is the ultimate horror just thinking that they don’t need to jump to get to you. They can eat you without any hassles.

One night I woke up. I can’t remember why I did. The moment I opened up my eyes I saw them. Tigers and not just one or two there were so many that I couldn’t count them. They were creeping around on the floor. You have to understand that a tiger is a very dangerous thing. They have sharp teeth and an enormously strong body. Plus he is fast. Much faster than I was.

As I was lying there in my little bed, I realised that there was absolutely nothing that I could do. If I got up the tigers would catch me even though my bed was the closest to the door. And now I have to confess that I didn’t even give a single thought about my sister that was in her bed on the other side of the room. In my frightened state, I could only imagine what they would be able to do to me.

The other thing was that I couldn’t even call my parents. I knew that the tigers weren’t aware that I was awake yet. That was why they left me alone. If I made a single noise the tigers would catch and devour me.

Now for a frightened out her mind four years old, I did a lot of thinking. And I couldn’t find a single solution to my problem. And that was when the panic and fear took over. Poor little old me started crying. But please note that I did it softly because of those tigers.

Caught up in my hopeless little sobs, the light suddenly switched on. You are not going to believe this, but those tigers changed like magic into toys! One became a tricycle another turned into a waggon and one after the other turned into a toy that I knew standing around in our room.

Even at the age of four, I hated feeling dumb. And when I realised that all those tigers were actually just a lot of toys, I felt stupid not just dumb. My dad walked into the room and found a way to sit down on my bed. “Why are you crying, Sumanda?” he wanted to know. At that age I still didn’t know how to lie so, I had, to tell the truth.

“The toys looked like tigers, Daddy,” I said with the last sob. At least I was clever enough to realise my mistake at once.

And this was the chance my dad had to finally teach me a very valuable life lesson that I would never forget. “Now you see Sumanda why you always have to pack away your toys before you go to bed,” he told me.

Well, Daddy, almost 40 years later, I still make sure everything is in its place before getting into bed. But you never told me about how walking in the dark with my own kids’ stuff strewn around their room could give you bruises.

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This is such a good story. I see the tigers and the toys in your room and believe your terror as a four year old. Good story Sumanda