What is the message of the story "Tiger in the Tunnel" by Ruskin Bond?
The message of the story is that courage in the execution of duty and resilience in the face of adversity are necessary traits for survival in the jungles of India.
In the story, Tembu's father is Baldeo; Baldeo is a night-watchman who works at a way station. His job is to make sure that the signal lamp never becomes quenched and that the tunnel is free from obstruction when the mail train comes through every evening. Tembu sometimes accompanies his father on these night-time excursions; they sleep in a hut near the way station as Baldeo watches through the night.
On one particular night, Baldeo has to investigate a disturbance, and he tells his twelve year old son to stay in the shelter of the hut while he is gone. In his investigations, Baldeo discovers that the signal light is out and proceeds to relight it. After his task, he prepares to return to the hut but is soon accosted by a fierce tiger. Baldeo heroically makes his stand and fights the tiger with his trusty axe. Unfortunately, even though he manages to wound the tiger, Baldeo is mauled to death by the animal.
Tembu, his sister, and his mother grieve for Baldeo for two days; after the short grieving period, Tembu takes up his father's axe and proceeds to perform the night-watch tasks his father was responsible for when he was alive. In the face of danger, Baldeo exhibits perseverance and courage; his exemplary conduct is a legacy to his family, who prove resilient in the face of adversity.