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A Warrior Against War In The Wild

N. Kalyani

By Soonoo Taraporewala
Penguin/Viking, New Delhi,, 2012, pp. 230 xxvi, Rs. 499.00


When I began reading Soonoo Tara- porewala’s biography of Fateh Singh Rathore, I thought I would right away begin encountering thrilling tiger tales. I was disappointed. I trudged on, nevertheless, wondering when I would sight the tiger. Of course, I was a little impatient, and so to blame. For the book is Rathore’s biography, not only a fascinating and riveting account of the tiger in the wild and the tiger warrior’s jungle trail. But then the third chapter on, the tiger began making its appearance. And the initial disappointment evaporated. Now the tiger was more and more in the foreground and lived on centre stage till the close of the book.     This biography by Taraporewala sometimes sees a repetition of details or a back and forth of events in the chronology. Also, there are those occasions when an issue or event in Rathore’s life has been touched upon with detailing to be desired for, and others when the minutiae of an event have been spelt out. This is perhaps bound to happen as such a narrative is dependent on facts available from various sources. Here the author has based her book on Rathore’s reminiscences recorded on nine audio cassettes, media articles and reports collected by Rathore and other documents such as legal documents of the cases he was involved in. Also, the book has given predominance to Rathore’s life as the Tiger Warrior. And so all told Taraporewala has done justice to the Tiger Warrior and the tiger. Taraporewala, who first visited Ranthambhore in the early 1980s, ‘half a lifetime ago’, says she and her family ‘had fallen in love with it at first sight, with its ravishing beauty and abundant wildlife.’ And she goes on to say:’Ranthambhore means everything to me, and it hurts and saddens me to see it despoiled by greed, carelessness and ineptitude.’ Taraporewala, who worked as a librarian for more than twenty years at the British Council in Mumbai, ‘has a special love for the forests and animals of Ranthambhore.’   Now for the book’s contents. ‘Childhood and Family’ starts off from Fateh’s birth and childhood and goes on to describe his antecedents and then on to his children and their families right up to his grandchildren! It begins with the two dates attributed to his birth, one in 1936 and the other in 1938, the official one! Then ...

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