Jim Corbett: A Touching Story

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Jim Corbett is a great name associated with the conservation of wild animals especially tigers and leopards. He rendered immense service to rural folk residing around forests by ridding them of numerous man-eating tigers and leopards. This provided him with enough scope to study in detail about the big cats.

Jim Corbett is full of admiration for the majestic, dignified and imposingly beautiful tiger. He says that writers who described the species as ‘cruel’ and ‘blood - thirsty’ have done great injustice to the animal. He lauds the tiger as “a large-hearted gentleman". Corbett makes an impassioned plea to protect and conserve the Indian tiger. If the species of the Indian tiger is extinguished, India will lose a lot in terms of ecological balance. In his honour, a famous zoological park in Uttar Pradesh is named after him.

Besides his contribution to the cause of animal conservation, Jim Corbett is known for his interesting writings comprising short stories and anecdotes of his experiences with wild animals. He is one of the few English writers who brought out the virtue of the innocent Indian villagers. One such story is ‘Lalajee’.

While Jim Corbett is on duty at a place called Mokama Ghat, he comes across a man called Lalajee, affected by cholera. Corbett gives him shelter and sees that he is provided with proper treatment. Fortunately for Lalajee, he survives the almost fatal disease. Corbett learns from him that he was a thriving merchant. Being swindled by his partner he was ruined and became a bankrupt. Driven from place to place, Lalajee had reached Mokama Ghat and it was on account of ‘Sahib’s’ kindness that he was saved. But now, Lalajee has no place to go to. Jim Corbett hands him over an amount of Rs.500/- (quite a lot of money in the first half of the last century) and a railway ticket to go to his place. He advises him to start life afresh.

After quite a long time, one day when Jim Corbett returns home after work he finds a shadowy figure waiting for him. To his pleasant surprise, he recognizes the person to be none other than Lalajee.

Lalajee tells Corbett that he started his business with the money he had lent him; he has been doing quite well and now he has come to return the money that Corbett had lent him. Lalajee insists on repaying the loan with interest. But Jim Corbett declines it. Only to satisfy Lalajee, he accepts the amount of Rs. 500/- he had given him.

“The quality of mercy is not strained, it blesseth him that gives and him that takes" says William Shakespeare in The Merchant of Venice. Jim Corbett, out of sheer love for humanity, extended the quality of mercy to Lalajee and Lalajee recompensed it with his genuine feeling of gratitude. In this sense, both Jim Corbett and Lalajee are blessed.

How wonderful the whole world would be, if human relationships are at such an ideal level!

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