Once upon a time, a thousand and one years ago, there was a small white tiger named Tigli.
Tigli was the youngest of five cubs. Her brothers were four splendid Siberian saber-toothed white tigers, all with perfect proportions, shiny and sparkling fur coats, and the proud look of strength and ability.
Though inside Tigli knew she wasn’t less important, she did have one small flaw: her teeth didn’t grow and even though deep in her heart she was happy not to have those long and sharp white fangs, which she knew would end up scaring the other cubs, the bigger animals made fun of her for those small, round teeth that showed in her mouth every time she tried to say something.
Tigli had asked her parents several times if she too was a real tiger even though her teeth were different. She asked if she too would become as big and strong as her brothers, able to hunt and defend herself and earn the respect of the other animals. But momma tiger and daddy tiger were too busy running after their four sons who were always getting into trouble to give her an answer and didn’t realize that little Tigli was becoming sadder and sadder. She was ashamed to be different, so she kept hiding from everyone, looking for a way to solve her problem.
At first, Tigli tried to explain to the others that it didn’t matter how she looked. If they just got to know her, she would prove that she was a generous and helpful, good friend, and someone would always welcome others who were different like her. But noone reached out to her. Everyone just mocked little Tigli and looked at her with distrust. “What happened to you?” They said to her,
“Perhaps you swallowed your teeth?”
“Maybe you’re not really a tiger, but a kitten that grew too much?”
“So, whose daughter are you?”
She spent her afternoons crying and asking herself a lot of questions, but she couldn’t find an answer. “Maybe I’m not like them. Maybe, I don’t have a mom and dad. Maybe, one day they too will get bored of me and take me back to that dark and cold cave where they found me.” Until finally one day after thinking long and hard, Tigli understood that the only thing she could do in order not to be so alone was to become her brothers’ equal… yes, but how? She thought long and hard once again until finally she understood; she looked for two large white stones and decided to build two long tusks that she then tied to her teeth.
Of course, Tigli knew that two tusks alone would not be enough to solve her problem. To convince everyone that she was a real Siberian tiger, she would also have to demonstrate that she was just as frightening and strong as her brothers. And so, Tigli spent day after day learning to roar like them, sharpening her nails to be like theirs, and practicing leaping and bounding after the weakest pray until eventually she was ready to show everyone the new Tigli.
She had practiced acting like the other Siberian tigers so much that Tigli soon began to believe that anger and aggression were really inside her heart and that she shouldn’t have tried so hard to convince the others.
Tigli started with her brothers. One morning, around the time when they usually left for the hunt, Tigli presented herself at the entrance of their den and with confidence said, “Take me with you. Today I want to come with you to hunt and scare those whining cubs that do nothing but spend their days playing with each other.” A little voice inside her murmured that it actually would be kind of nice to be able to play all day with friends, but her statement was so firm that it was too late to go back. Her four brothers looked at her first in amazement and then with a smirk, but eventually decided to take Tigli seriously and put her to the test.
All five of them left for the hunt, Tigli in the middle, watched by her brothers so she wouldn’t prevent them from ruining their outing and frightening their prey. But she was very good… She had practiced so many times alone that in the end, she really was ready! It was a day to remember… but the excitement of finally being a part of the pack, of being looked at with respect by all, however, was mixed with the sorrow of being seen as the enemy and detecting fear in the eyes of the other cubs!
They returned home and the story of Tigli’s success travelled quickly… The brothers told momma and daddy tiger, “You should have seen her… a real Siberian tiger, fast, clever, and capable! Tigli, if only you had told us before! But what have you been doing until now?” Tigli would have liked to answer that actually, she had not enjoyed herself at all, that in her heart she was deeply sad because she would have preferred making friends and playing with the cubs instead of scaring them to death! But the proud look Tigli saw for the first time in her parents’ eyes prevented her from speaking up. Nothing made her feel better than being part of a real family and she wouldn’t have given that up for anything in the world. At the end of the day, the truth was that she too was a tiger and that explained her behavior! The cubs she longed to play with would sooner or later grow up and find their path, leaving her, but her family never would. They would be around forever.
Days passed, then years and Tigli and her brothers continued to frighten all the animals in the region. No one came near Tigli. They looked at her in fear from a distance because they knew that she could attack at any time. Tigli grew up by herself…
No friends to talk to, no one to hang out with and do all that she would have liked to do: play hide and seek, skip aimlessly here and there, nibble on the fruits of the forest all day, and laugh and laugh some more until she was out of breath.
Then one day everything changed. While Tigli was out and about with her brothers on one of their usual raids, she saw a long tail appear from behind a rock. She positioned herself and prepared to take a long leap, one of the best hunting techniques. Before taking her first step, Tigli heard a timid and sincere voice say, “Do you want to play with me? Today all my friends left, because they said that a pack of very dangerous Siberian tigers was coming so I ended up staying behind alone.”
Tigli knew that she should have taken advantage of that invitation to hunt and scare, but something inside of her prevented her from taking action… She was curious to see who was hiding behind that rock, but above all for once she wanted to know what it would be like to have a friend. So without thinking twice, she said, “I’m also hiding from that pack of tigers… if you want we can find a shelter where we can hide and play together.” Tigli’s desire to meet her first friend was so strong that she forgot to take off her makeshift sharpened fangs. When she rounded the corner, she immediately frightened the stranger, causing him to run for his life.
From behind the rock a young dinosaur popped up and when he found himself face to face with the Siberian tiger, his eyes widened and he jumped back. Only then did Tigli remember she still had on her fangs, but she knew that it was too late to fix them and, saddened, decided to do what everyone expected from her… to hunt prey. This time, however, Tigli hesitated a second longer than usual and just at that moment something happened. “Are those real fangs?” the dinosaur asked curiously, “I can see the goodness of your soul in your eyes. Those fangs don’t scare me. If they are fake you can take them off, I promise I won’t tell anyone.” Finally someone had seen the real Tigli. In one lightning fast move, Tigli removed the annoying fangs and revealed her little teeth.
“What’s your name?” Tigli asked. “Nosauli!” replied the young dinosaur. “Can I really play with you?” asked Tigli. “Of course,” replied Nosauli, “with me and all of my friends.”
From that day forward Tigli and Nosauli became inseparable. Tigli spent everyday with her new dinosaur friends and everyday invented a different excuse to avoid being discovered by her brothers. But Tigli wasn’t happy at all that she had to make up all those lies. Then she had a thought. Her brothers had never had any friends. Perhaps they too would like to play instead of hunting to scare other animals.
So one day, Tigli mustered all of the courage she had and told her brothers the truth. “I don’t like being bad. I prefer to have lots of friends and have fun all day. If you want, you can come with my new dinosaur friends and me. I’m sure you would love it too. ”
And just like that by telling the truth Tigli found four other playmates… her brothers! From this experience, everyone learned that the only way to be happy is by telling the truth and being yourself.