#AtozChallenge: W

W is for Weretigers and Tigerweres.

In Malaysia we don’t have werewolves because we don’t have wolves.

In the days when our jungles had yet to be driven back to the extent it has been today, it was the tiger that posed a threat to humans — a threat that was probably largely imagined as these creatures are not known to seek out (and attack) humans.

There were men who were said to possess the shamanic ability to transform themselves into tigers or leopards. ‘Harimau jadian’ is the Malay term for weretigers. Some men learnt how to transform so they could protect their property/plantations and communities; others did it for nefarious reasons, to kill out of spite, or for revenge, even as paid assassins.

In one of my short stories, based on a Keralan folktale, a tiger learns how to transform himself into a man and eventually takes a human wife. The tiger comes to a sticky end in the folktale, but I decided that my dear tigerwere, Ali Ahmed bin Ebrahem Ali Ahmed, deserved a better fate.

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