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I Am the Tiger

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When I was seven years old, my aunt had taught me a song about tigers. I loved that song and I would constantly find myself humming or singing it, unable to get it out of my head. Noticing my immediate liking to the song, my aunt, who owned a pottery studio where she sold various creations of ceramic, gave me a ceramic tiger. This tiger was just an ordinary tiger. It had an orange coat with beautiful black stripes. A “wang” symbol on its forehead. Just any old tiger like the ones you see at the zoo, but for some strange, bizarre reason that I cannot describe, I hated that tiger. Maybe it was the off-centered face or the strange gleam it had in its eyes, whatever the reason, I absolutely despised that tiger. All of my other friends loved the tiger, but I wasn’t like them. My friends were special, and I wasn’t, I was just ordinary, like the tiger. Perhaps that’s what it was, the sense of mockery, being the same as some dumb ceramic animal.

   

I knew what feelings were back then, and I knew that people could hurt other people's feelings. I had once given a toy that I liked to a friend, that friend had rejected my toy claiming that his toy was better. We were still young then and our dispute was easily forgotten and we later became friends again, I can still remember the feeling that I had felt when my Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle was rejected. In turn when my aunt had given me the ceramic tiger I had said I loved it. Truth be told, I probably didn’t have an actual flashback to the time when I was rejected. I might have just simply just thought it was the right thing to do or I had my childish instinct and just went along with whatever anyone said. Either way it was a huge mistake…

   

The first tiger was weird, the second creepy, the third, downright scary. Tiger after tiger were delivered to our house in California. Soon my room and the family room was filled with tiers of all different sizes and professions. There were ice skating tiger, golfing one, even one that was a politician, and I didn’t even know what a politician was! Nevertheless, it was getting out of hand, but I could never work up the courage to tell my aunt or write her a letter saying that I hated the ceramic tigers. Then came one both unfortunate and happy day…

   

An earthquake had struck California, it was nothing big, but it was big enough to rattle some things in our small house. Coincidentally, as if by pure good luck, all off the tigers that I had so strongly despised had been smashed into a million tiny pieces. Only one survived. The first one I had received, the ordinary tiger. As I walked into the house it stared at me with its strange, shiny eyes with a look of disgust that said; “This is all your fault” I felt sad. Even though I had hated those tigers so much and now they were broken, I felt empty inside, like something was missing.

   

Soon my aunt had moved back to China without a word to take care of her family. I was never sent another tiger. We had moved to New Jersey, begun a new life with new friends, but I had always kept that first tiger. The one that had survived, it had the real passion and love that my aunt had given me. I was not a special child, I didn’t have any talents or passions and I wasn’t born on any holiday like some of my other friends. That tiger though, was ordinary and it had survived all of the challenges in its own life. While my aunt my not have intended this to be the message, I felt that even though I was ordinary just like the tiger I could make it through. I’ll never forget the day, when I pulled open the TMNT gift wrapping, and found that ordinary plain tiger that I hated so much, when I looked into my aunt's eyes and saw the happiness that I had brought her. I’ll never forget that day, the day when I was the tiger.




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