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Enchanter

by Andrew Broadous
September 2018

All white tigers can be traced to a single ancestor: Mohan.


Born in Rewa, India and raised in captivity, circa 1951, Mohan had the luxury of strutting about the court of the Maharaja in unparalleled splendor. He was the only Bengal white tiger of his kind, a spectacle to all who witnessed his snow-white fur, the soulful stare of his glazed aquamarine eyes.


But his stay was far from uneventful, for the Maharaja, on a desperate quest to procure more white cubs, put Mohan to work—with the “royal consort,” an orange-colored tigress named Begum.


***


Under hushed palm fronds,

two howls hurried with the heat

of Indian sun—

            Orange, Orange,

            Orange, Orange.

Again, roared the Maharaja,

and with a daughter, grown,

once-teething tigress,

a white gene kept quiet within her,

Mohan sighed—        

            White, White,

            White, White.

Two on display in the New Delhi Zoo,

One bought by a billionaire,


            One to lie with Mohan.


            Give me more.

           

            More.

                        More.

                                    More.

           

            ***

           

In Hindi, his name means “Enchanter.”


Though he didn’t quite make it to age 20, Mohan would one day be immortalized in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers each Saturday at 10 a.m. He’d fight Lord Zedd and Rita while a little boy ladles soggy Fruit Loops in warm milk.


Mohan couldn’t conceive he’d be reincarnated on a hot summer’s day, huddled pensively, as a mini train chugs past his cage in Farmington, Utah. Many would ogle and crane their hot and sweaty necks, but that same little boy would look upon the scene and dream he could run his fingers through bleached hair. Dreaming he could growl low, nibble on a hundred pounds of wild boar, then fast with the macaque.


***


This boy would find solace in birdwatching. On walks with his father through gypsum and dry bramble, he’d hopscotch black beetle trails. He’d holler when his father’s 4Runner grazes rabbit tails and dive-bombers. Red clay would mold the grooves of his boots, and he’d know it came from someplace enchanted and sizzling with cicadas. But why, he’d ask. Why would he trade Tigerzords for single razors? White tiger posters for botched cover letters? Enchantments for a drafty café, with its chipped ceramics and lonely bar stools?


 ***