Chin’s Butterfly Gallery
The Common Tiger (Danaus genutia intermedia)
The Common Tiger (Danaus genutia genutia). © Chin Fah Shin.
The Common Tiger (Danaus genutia intermedia)
The Common Tiger (Danaus genutia genutia). © Chin Fah Shin.
From the diary of a heartbroken surrogate father
By Simon K. M. Chan

IT WAS a sunny day in September that I first laid eyes on "my baby". From the looks of it, she had been abandoned by her mother. You could tell because she was all alone. All around her was filth and grime, made even more nauseous by the close proximity to a sewerage drain. There she was, looking adorable yet forlorn amongst the dying vegetation which was to be her home had I not done something to change that.
 So, merrily I took her home so that I could take care of her. I was happy that she was feeding very well, eating almost non-stop, only taking a breather when it was time to sleep. All the time she did not make any noise or sound except that when she was hungry and there was not enough food around she will go wandering on her own. At her age she can be very active indeed! What a wonderful baby! Bet you'll like to have one.
 There was one time I got so worried because she wandered off and I could not find her for almost an hour. Thoughts raced through my mind as panic overwhelmed me. "What if she was hurt? Maybe even lost out there somewhere?" I could not bear to find out the truth. It would kill me if anything bad had happened to her. Calmness soon returned and I regained my composure when I eventually found her underneath the bed.
 Now some parents would have reprimanded me for not being a good parent but you see, I am a single working parent, and do not have time to look after her while I was away working. Hiring a maid was out of the question. Not all maids have the expe- rience, let alone know-how to take care of her. Most people would be squirmish at the sight of her. So every morning just before I go off to work I will feed her and leave enough food for her second and third helpings. And every evening when I arrive
home from work I will clean up after her to clear off all the uneaten food. She can be a messy eater at times.
 I felt a sense of fulfilment every time I see her because she looks bigger and prettier as the days go by. Then, one fine day she decided not to eat anymore and started to hide in the corner of the room. She looked pale and was not moving. I started to worry again. "She might be sick," I told myself silently in my heart. But just then she showed signs that she was okay. "It might be that she needs lots of rest, that's all," I heard myself speaking as I tried to console myself.
 So I tried feeding her one last time but she would not eat. I left her as she was, only to check on her every hour to see how she was doing. By now she decided to discard her old clothing and cover herself up so that she will not be disturbed. I reluctantly abided by her wish for privacy. I was still checking on her every hour on the hour when I was at home even to the extent of staying awake throughout the night. Such is the sacrifice of a dutiful parent.
 One drizzling day in October, about a week later, everything fell apart. I was doing my rounds checking on her when I noticed colours returning to her face and body. For a brief moment I was happy because it meant that she was okay but at the back of my mind the nagging fear remained... the fear that she will leave me someday. "It is inevitable that they will leave home once they have gained their independence," I recalled someone saying as I resigned myself to my impending fate. "She will be leaving me soon... my only baby." I was totally crushed. Heartbroken. But then I realised that if I really love her I ought to let her go... let her spread her wings and fly... © Simon Chan
Simon K.M. Chan was surrogate father to a caterpillar of
the Common Tiger (Danaus genutia intermedia).