I once explained to a psychiatrist how I wanted to write a children’s book–a children’s novel, perhaps–about a fictional tribe of purple tigers. I meant it. Yet I could not come up with a storyline. I even came up with them drinking purée made from different fruits and vegetables. (Unlike the tigers in the wild, these tigers in the wild, these civilized beasts were vegetarian.) However, as indicated, I could not think what it was they did.
I also could never see the shaded area where their world overlapped with ours, somehow. In C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, there was a cupboard. In Lynn Reid Banks’ The Indian and the Cupboard there was another Cupboard. In Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, dreams are the medium of delivering the fantastic. Yet I could never find my medium into the world of the Purple Tigers, or what they would do when I finally got to them.
In grade school, I told bits and pieces of a story which I did not write down until very recently, “The Unicorn’s Journey Past Sugar-Candy Mountain” and included in a group of stories, A Child’s Haggadah. In college I attempted my first novel, Children of the Cat Goddess. I still hope someday to add more “volumes” to it, and have a long book under that title. Years later, I wrote two-book fantasy set, Grace; or, in Search of the Leviathan and The Cycle of Ahriman. I wrote children’s stories for two volumes: The Magic Orchard and Other Stories and A Pocketful of Story. Yet I never did find a place for my purple tigers.
I wish I had found the right insight for my purple tigers. Nonetheless, if Borges could write his essay about a fictive library can write then I can write about the elusive purple tigers. The purple tigers are gentle giants, like the Creator in that they are “slow to anger but quick to forgive.” Yet their lack of ferocity is a characteristic of their strength. Though able to crush a human skull in their mouths they have good will towards all living things. Though in Nature predators usually evolve from prey, in their case the reverse happened. They use tiger-size toenail clippers to make sure that if they are momentarily enraged they shall not inadvertently tear another animal to shreds.
They are particularly kind to children (the young of their own or other species). Reasoning “the wolf and the kid shall lie together and a little child shall lead them,” they reason that “we shall shepherd the lambs and the children and the wolf cubs through the wilderness from place to place so as to bring about the coming of the messiah. Till that harbinger of Judgment Day, we soft-hearted Felidae shall do good deeds to bring about God’s Kingdom on earth.”
If only I could find the story line to do these heroic creatures justice. Lacking that, I write this blog.