There was once a small and sleepy village, surrounded by mountains on all sides.

A tiger lived on the mountain behind the village. Whenever he climbed to the top of the mountain and roared, the people in the village trembled with fright.

On a winter night, when all the world seemed to be covered with snow, the tiger climbed down. He had not eaten for several days and was very, very, very hungry.

The Tiger and the Dried Persimmons [Illustrations: Kusum Chamoli]
The Tiger and the Dried Persimmons [Illustrations: Kusum Chamoli]

As he was desperately looking for food, he came near the window of a house. A lamp was flickering inside.

Suddenly a baby began crying loudly-“ang, ang, ang.” He cried continuously.

Just as the tiger, looking around carefully, was about to enter the house, he heard the voice of a woman, “Keep quiet. The bear is just outside the window.”

But the baby, paying no heed to the mother’s threats, continued crying.

Crouching down below the window of the house, the tiger thought, “That’s a strange baby, I wonder what he looks like. He does not fear a fox or even a bear.”

Feeling very hungry again, the tiger stood up. The baby was still crying.

“Oh, look look…” came the mother’s voice, “here comes a tiger! He’s there, just under the window…”

But the baby continued crying.

The tiger was so shocked and frightened that he collapsed on the ground and almost fainted.

“How on earth does she know that I am here?” The tiger muttered to himself.

Taking a breath after a while, the tiger peeped into the room again.

The baby was still crying. He did not show any sign of being afraid of a tiger, either.

The tiger had never seen a living being which did not fear him. He had always thought that all the thought that all the creatures of the world could not but tremble at the very mention of his name. But this strange baby did not care. Nothing seemed to put fear into him, even a tiger!

Now, the tiger began to feel worried. At that very moment, the mother’s voice was heard again, “Now, keep quiet. Here you are… dried persimmons!” The baby stopped crying at once. There was complete silence. Not even the sound of breathing was heard. The tiger wondered, “Who the deuce is Persimmons? He must be more powerful and ferocious than me.” The tiger was both worried and scared.

Just then something heavy fell on his back with a thud. The tiger ran for his life, sure that what had jumped on his back was none other than the dreaded persimmon.

Actually, what had jumped on his back was a thief who had entered the house to steal the cattle. He had jumped from the roof, mistaking the tiger for a cow in the dark.

The thief was taken aback too. He was scared to death when he realized that the animal he was riding was not a cow, but a tiger.

The tiger ran desperately to throw the ‘persimmon’ off his back. But the thief held on tightly to the tiger’s back, as he knew that the moment he fell, the tiger would tear him to pieces.

Scared for their lives, both kept running until dawn broke, Luckily, the thief found a drooping branch of a tree within his reach. He seized it, climbed up, and hid himself among the branches. He had at last escaped from the tiger’s back, to his great relief.

The tiger was relieved, too. “Thank God,” said he, “for saving my life. the persimmon is really a terrible creature.”

He ran back to his safe abode in the mountains.

(From Laughing Together: Stories, Riddles and Proverbs from Asia and the Pacific; Published by The National Book Trust under a UNESCO project.)

633 words | 6 minutes
Readability: Grade 4 (9-10 year old children)
Based on Flesch–Kincaid readability scores

Filed under: stories
Tags: #tigers, #mountains, #thief

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