It was during my young pastor days. I was to be a pastor in a small church in Malay, far away from Portugal, my home. The church was set up by the rich Portuguese living in the colonized Malay. Plantations, mainly coffee, were the most significant source of income. The locals and the plantation workers were very diverse, namely the Tamils, Sinhalese and Chinese and they practised mainly Hinduism and Buddhism.
The locals were wary of me during the first few months of arrival but later warmed up to me. Sundays were the only busy days, for the Christians would gather to listen to the sermons. The rest of the week was quiet.
It was during the beginning of monsoon that the unbelievable happened. During my evening prayers on that day, I could hear thunder rumbling outside my quarters. For some inexplicable reason, I had an urge to go out. I set out to investigate, making sure to put on my raincoat and carry an umbrella. The church was at the edge of the woods and few people lived nearby. I followed my instinct and, after a few steps, I found what was tingling my senses. A man was lying unconscious near the bushes. He had a huge gash on his leg which was bleeding heavily. Judging by his ethnicity, he looked like a plantation worker. I took pity on him and brought him inside. I treated his wound and nursed his fever the whole night.
By the next morning, he was still unconscious. I then went to the town to buy some herbs and ask about the worker. When I got to the market, I noticed there was a huge uproar. I asked a passerby what the issue was, and he replied that a worker in an estate was killed by a tiger the previous night. The master had shot the tiger in its hind leg and everyone assumed the tiger would not have gone far, but they couldn’t find it. And it so happened that the estate was near to the church. Some locals were calling the tiger a ‘Kesmet’, a sacred beast which can take the form of a man to deceive humans. My mind was instantly filled with dread and disbelief, but I sprinted back home to check for myself. I checked the bedchambers and found the man missing. Worried, I rushed to the front door only to notice a pair of footprints of a man which disappeared after a couple of steps. They were soon replaced by paw prints of a big animal, noticeably a tiger.
This short story was inspired by the novel – The night Tiger written by Yangsze Choo