Neha S.

On February 23, 2015, I was in South Africa for a holiday. It was the second last day of my trip, so my parents and I decided to do the one thing we hadn’t done; that was to see lion cubs. This has been my dream since I was 4 years old. When we arrived at the game reserve we went with a ranger to see the cubs. After 15 minutes, the ranger said he wanted to take us to see the other animals, which were all mainly big cats. My parents and I told him that we weren’t interested as we had already seen all the animals the reserve has in a previous safari. But the ranger was very persistent, so off we went. At the end of the tour, he took us to a lion enclosure that we had previously walked past. He asked if we wanted to go in. We all said, ‘No.’ People have done this before and it was listed as an activity. Even after saying, ‘No’ he opened the cage and walked in. He asked my mum to come in she said, ‘No, I’m scared.’ Then my dad also said, ‘No.’ I said, ‘I’m not sure,’ but he assured me and I walked in. Even today, I don’t know how and why I walked in. I don’t how to explain it. I felt like he wasn’t going to close the cage until I walked in. I felt like I was in a trance.

After walking five steps into the cage, a lioness jumped up and attacked me. As I blacked out, the lioness took three bites to my head. Then I turned around and she bit me on the side of the head. Then finally she bit my chest, my right breast, then I lost all consciousness. While I was in this unconscious state, I went through the most amazing beautiful blissful experience. I saw things about me and my family. I saw my things from the future, like my 19 year old brother with three baby girls pleading with me for help. I saw my entire life. I remember small bits of it now, but barely anything. I went to this amazing beautiful place: Some call it heaven; some call it God; some call it hallucinating. All I know is that this is where everyone truly belongs. It is where the soul goes. I wanted to stay but then something happened. I heard a voice, my voice, kept saying, ‘YOU’RE ONLY 15. GET UP, RUN!’ Then the blissful place in which I was in closed. It was like I was in a portal that looked like a black hole. It was a black hole with all the colors you can imagine and colors that the human eye does not recognize, and it closed.

From here I have no memory. But in this time, I have stood up, fought the lion, somehow hit it down, and ran outside the cage. I HAVE NO MEMORY OF THIS. All I remember is the feeling I get when I run. I am a state athlete and in that moment, I felt like I was running at nationals. It was like all my training led up to this moment. All I can say is this, only by God’s grace am I alive today. Only by God’s grace, I will be able to go back to school and graduate in the next few years. Only by God’s grace will I be able to help people in every way possible that I can. I am a 15 year old girl that walked into a lion enclosure with five lions and came out alive. No help from the ranger that was supposed to be my protection and safety. My parents were helpless, watching there daughter being eaten by a lion. If you want to know what hell looks like that is it, but everyone asks me why Neha ? why do you call it a blessing you were nearly eaten alive by a lion. I call it a blessing because I understand life now. I look at everything differently. I love myself and everyone else. I have so much I would like to say but I should stop because is only a brief summary.