Where is Richard Parker?

Watching “Life of Pi” made me cry with a heartfelt sympathy for the journey of Pi,  and most probably for that certain degree of familiarity that was delivered to the audience. Admit it. You had a Richard Parker. And probably, you became one.

This movie is a story about a man who experienced God during a shipwreck, after losing his family, his treasures, his animals, and the woman he loved. Isn’t this a lot like the story of Job?  Kumusta naman yon?  A man who lost everything he had, found himself in the middle of nowhere-ness, and later on discovered that he was not alone because he had a wild animal for a companion named Richard Parker. Grieving and afraid of a tiger, try to imagine the interplay of emotions that Pi had to deal with during this test. (You have no idea how this movie has turned paper-works from a burden into a blessing, when it made me realize that life isn’t yet stressful when you need to stay awake 24/7 to catch up a deadline, than having to keep yourself up because you have a tiger in your boat and hundreds of whales around you that can kill you anytime).

Who is Richard Parker?  He was the tiger which Piscine Molitor Patel was so afraid of ever since he was young. Despite that, he took care of him and provided for his food. (As if he had a choice). This tiger, which Pi was eventually able to tame, surprisingly inspired him to continue living each day no matter how hopeless the situation seemed. To cut the long story short, Pi thought of him as a best friend as he was with Pi all throughout his miserable moments. They cried together. Ate together. Slept together. Hoped together. Well, I almost forgot that Richard Parker is a tiger.

Pi and Richard’s story however didn’t end with sparks and smiles which we usually see in the movies. Their story isn’t like the ‘happily ever after ending’ of Shrek and Fiona. And it isn’t like the victory story of District 12’s survivors in the Hunger Game. In their story, one left the other after surviving the shipwreck. After all that they have been through (the tears, struggles, and food that they shared), Richard turned his back on Pi, leaving the latter devastated, broken, and frustrated.

Admit it. Once in your life you had a Richard Parker, and probably you became one. When a friend you loved with all your heart left you and broke your heart; or when you had to leave even if you knew it will devastate other people’s lives. And the worst part is: one left the other without saying goodbye. “After all”, to quote Pi. Either for a valid reason or not. Either out of too much love or maybe because it isn’t enough. Unjustifiably, it happens. On Pi’s case, we’ll never know why. Richard Parker never told us.

Finding and Losing. Pi found two companions during this hard situation.  Aside from the best friend he didn’t expect to have and lose, Pi experienced a rescuing and all-providing God. When he was in a perfect place to lose hope, he found Hope instead. When he was in an impossible situation, he witnessed a miracle. It was when he ran out of something to cling on to, that he found God rescuing him out of a trap. How can a man survive for more than 40 days or so in the middle of the sea, who barely eats and sleeps? With nothing else to do but watch a tiger and write? Isn’t that familiar to you? When you just got shipwrecked, in a figurative sense, and it was too impossible for you to get out of the situation that you learned to call for God’s help? And found Him. This is the most inspiring touch of the film: Pi finding God, he will never lose. The sad part was: finding a best friend and losing him out of sight.


Jesus said, “and this is the will of Him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that He has given me” – John 6:39a

Jesus promised, “never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” – Hebrews 13:5c