The book calmed down my worries that welled up after noticing a certain event last month.
It was a viral Facebook meme which contained some images of tiger statues from different corners of Bangladesh; all deformed, and looked nowhere near actual tigers.
The tiger sculptures looked like caricatures, made to instil mockery among the mass rather than conveying the real essence of a regal beast.
But, behind the apparent fun, the meme transmitted some troubling signs.
Certainly, we have excellent sculptors in the country. Then, why did the patrons of these statues not seek them out?
If the tiger, the emblem and symbol of our national cricket team, is portrayed with such negligence, how low is the status of the country's other 27 carnivore species? How disconnected are we from our wilderness? I kept on thinking.
To ease the glaring discomfort, I looked for works in Bangladesh, literature or graphic art, where tiger portrayals are right.
My sadness only increased; I could not find a single contemporary Bangla literary work on tiger.
At that point, Dr M M H Khan's book Sundarbane bagher shondhane (In pursuit of the Sundarbans Tiger) came out. It appeared like a trailing light in a collapsing tunnel.
As I went through the book leaf by leaf, I felt its brilliant potential in reinstating the connection between a national animal and a forgetful nation.
Sundarbane bagher shondhane depicts a collection of up-close-and-personal experience with tigers of the Sundarbans.
The book is chronicled by Dr M M H Khan, a Cambridge scholar, a professor of Zoology of Jahangirnagar University, and an eminent wildlife biologist of Bangladesh.
He takes us about two decades in the past, a time when he was doing his doctoral research on tigers – a first-of-its-kind in the country done by a Bangladeshi.
His PhD research was the first scientific work ever done on the Sundarbans Tiger. It was also Bangladesh's first attempt to save this majestic large cat.
And, Dr Khan, with sheer eloquence, narrates every tiger encounter he had back then and the hardships he overcame in the process.
Threats of the tigers and the ways to save them are written in simple Bangla yet in a thought-provoking style. The book also reveals Dr Khan's deep-rooted passion for wildlife.
From the generations who are following in Dr Khan's footsteps to the people living on the edge of the Sundarbans whose lives are entwined with the tigers, Sundarbane bagher shondhane is an easy-going scroll. You can term it as a bridge that unites people and nature.
Tiger, whether you wish to simply watch or pick as a study subject, is not an easy, forgiving option.
The enigma, the fierceness, and the bold lifestyle of the tiger are much-discussed topics in mythology.
In ancient times, tigers were often placed as gods. Although these animals once roamed nearly all over Bangladesh, tigers – roughly 120 of them – now live in the Sundarbans only, the last-stand of the species in the country.
With their numbers dwindling, the chance of a 'tiger sighting' is very slim these days.
The Sundarbans, the largest swath of mangrove forest in the world, itself poses a test of endurance.
The forest straddles across two countries and its total area is roughly 10,000 sq km, about 60% of which is in Bangladesh.
The waist-deep muds, the vertically erect root-beds, the winding creeks, the maze of rivers, the enormous estuary, the torrential monsoon, the deadly cyclones, the tedious tidal routine, the stalking tigers, the camouflaged crocodiles and cobras, and the pirates– all makes Sundarbans one of the toughest landscapes for any life to endure. Dr Khan, just like a tiger, overcame every hurdle in his pursuit.
Sundarbane bagher shondhane tells that Dr Khan had 15 direct encounters with tigers, and more than double near-misses.
The tally counts undoubtedly make the writer the luckiest person, who, to understand the lifestyle of a mangrove tiger, took great risks.
On several occasions, he had to spend nights on tree branches and traverse human-high grasses.
In one instance, he even whistled to get the attention of a tiger! How he repeatedly defied the life-threatening dangers and his level of patience appear surreal in the book.
I pictured him, as I kept reading, traversing trails that had been marked by a tiger just before him.
I pictured him, waiting on the launch deck with nerves of steel and a tiger howling, hidden in the thickets of a creek's edge.
I gauged the intensity from the time when I had heard the tiger howl – my closest encounter with the animal – from a canoe while birding on a narrow Kachikhali canal.
The book also reminds us about the surmounting sufferings of our tigers. Spotted deer, the prime source of Sundarbans tigers, is depleting, being an easy target of poachers.
The salinity of this coastal forest is rising and freshwater sources are shrinking faster.
Deprived of food and water, tigers venture into peripheral villages or attack lumberjacks, honey-hunters, and fishers of the Sundarbans.
Tigers are also a favourite pick of the poachers. And, all points toward one conclusion – dead tigers, marked as monsters.
Dr Khan, to curb down human-tiger conflict, provides an interesting option.
Maintaining a pack of dogs (properly vaccinated) in villages or with the forest-goers can effectively thwart tiger attacks. I always find his proposition quite interesting, worth a shot.
Sundarbane bagher shondhane starts with the memories of Dr Khan's late father, Sadat Ali Khan, whose love for nature and tiger sighting experiences gifted Bangladesh with one of the finest wildlife biologists.
Sadat Ali Khan's experiences are from the 1950s from a place called Madhupur shal forest (a type of wet deciduous forest), where presence of tigers now might sound like absolute fiction. But, at that time, tigers and leopards roamed abound in Madhupur.
The forest was once spread over the entire Central Bangladesh, its southern tip ended in present-day Purbachal, the northern edge of Dhaka city.
Today, demolition of shal forests is almost complete, large animals are long gone from this habitat.
Will tigers (read all wildlife) survive in Bangladesh in the future? Sundarbane bagher shondhane ends with a critical question. Conservation is a never-ending war that has to be dealt with absolute passion.
For the answer, I recall the motto of Dr George Schaller and the late Dr Alan Rabinowitz, two of the founders of wild cat research in the world.
With every passing day, Bangladesh is becoming more and more detached from nature.
Our cities are becoming less green. Consumerism is higher than ever. Forests are shrinking. Wildlife is being ignored, disregarded, feared, and barely understood. Our policies are often biased.
Now, to turn the tide, we need an all-out effort from all nameable tiers – writers, artists, photographers, journalists, educators, researchers, and strategists.
Time is running out, fast.