It is warm again. I am drowsy. I lick my paws, gently, so that my fur lays flat. The pool I bathed in lies in sunshine and I am hot. I am stretched out under a mango tree, the shade cools my body. Sleep is what I need, right now.
Birds high up in the branches, squabble as they fight for a special perch. The squabbling knocks down leaves that fall onto my ccat. I shake them off lazily, and the squabbling ceases when I roar.
It is too hot to roar and my whiskers need cleaning. A slow lick along my paw and i rub my face on the damp patch. My whiskers are important and must be cleaned after I have eaten.
There are flies buzzing lazily in the afternoon heat, I swish my tail to make them go away, but they stay close. If I were not so tired, I would take another swim in the tidal pool where mangrove roots stand like stilts, anchoring the mangrove trees. Later the water will rise, so that the roots are beneath the waters that sweep in from the ocean beyond. Little crabs scuttle around the roots, gathering food. Easier now for them on the open mud. When the tide comes in, they will bury themselves in the mud until the water recedes. I watch them with curiosity.
I hear another of my kind roaring in the distance but I pay no heed and gradually fall asleep. I am safe here, it is my favourite aftenoon spot.
A breeze blows around me, borne on the tidal waters. It awakens me. Still too hot to move far or fast but I wander slowly through the jungle, listening for Samba deer who may be about. All is silent, save a few bird calls, all creatures are somnolent in this heat. I am still too tired to chase anything, so I am happy that nothing is abroad.
Fallen leaves crackle under my paws as I move slowly through the forest. The breeze is left behind as I move deeper through the undergrowth. Soon, I will come to my favourite spot of early evening. It is an old building, reclaimed partially by the jungle, but there are cool vantage places where I can sit and gaze into the distance. There are valleys and hills beyond, a soft wind wafts up to my building. It is pleasant to sit and watch birds lift on the breeze. But as I draw near, I see another has taken my place.
Slowly, I creep up behind her. She is startled as I throat my displeasure. She roars back and jumps to meet my rush.
As she comes close, she feints to the side. She recognises me, and I her. She is my cub of three seasons ago. We sidle around each other, searching out what the other will do.
Then she makes her move, leaping towards me. I am bigger than her, but not by much. Though I still have more strength than she, and she knows it, turning at the last moment, running past me, she speeds off into the jungle. Next year she may be strong enough to beat me. I hope not. I am not that old, yet.
The Samba are on the move, and it is time to find a nice fat one. But I sense one nearby. It is injured and will not survive. I am a top predator but also it falls to me to make this a swift death for the deer. Its suffering will be less and I will be fed, and there will be little left. This is the way of the jungle.
Copyright Evelyn J. Steward. June, 2014 .