A Monkey in our Neighbourhood
This is a story I wrote some two years ago and posted at my old blog. The blog went defunct as there were far too many technical interruptions from the webmaster. None the less, I had a few nice posts in it which deserve reproduction. I had enjoyed writing this and has the same pleasure reposting it here.
It all happened two years ago, on this very Independence Day. Quite funny but not trivial, its implications took two long years to sink in.
We were on the rooftop of our workplace, hoisting the tri-colour and singing the national anthem. Thereafter, we exchanged the Independence Day greetings among us and waited for the complimentary snacks. There were children, the sons and daughters of my colleagues, and their presence had brought cheers to the atmosphere more than what the celebration itself would have done on its wake. The weather was fine, just like today’s sky, cloudless and sunny. The patriotic songs lilting heart-rending contents from the loudspeakers outside were adding to the patriotic ambiance of the moment.
A ruddy monkey, healthy and high-spirited, was waiting on the roof of the stair. Somebody spotted him and exchanged the language that the friendly fellow could understand. Probably he asked the primate to wait a while and not to leave the place without taking his share of snacks.
He waited there patiently but not unmindfully. He was alone and he was meditative.
In time the snacks arrived. There were packets and they were stacked into a big carton. The distribution started. A cheerful cacophony went around among the children. The supervisor was watching if any outsider would by chance sneak in, and he would not spare a packet more than required for the occasion. Quite mean of him, isn’t it? But it was his duty!
Now was the turn of our friendly primate. The person who was serving went to him with a banana. A mere banana, nothing more!
It was a sort of insult only humans are capable of perpetrating. Treating one different from the other needs a lot of analysis and brainpower, and only the humans possess that faculty in plenty. Those who do not know how to articulate their protests should rank en bloc inferior to their more vocal counterparts. That is the rule of the game!
The monkey was in no mood to digest the insult. He came down the elevated place and decided to assert. In his own way, the monkeyish way.
He went straight to the flag post, near the framed picture of Mahatma Gandhi, the father of the nation. It was garlanded by tuberoses and marigold. In front of the frame were a few incense sticks, burning to emit their sweet-smelling aroma. All those sticks were kept jabbed in a few ripe bananas.
The monkey went there and confidently grabbed the fruits, unmindful of the fire in the smouldering sticks. And he got the shock of fire, singeing his lips and burning a strand of his monkeyish beard.
Now came the backlash. The monkey knew how to release his anger. He went straight to the VSAT antenna, held its pole in a fury that appeared more conscious than instinctive. He shook it with all his might over and over again, and did not stop until all its bolts went loose and its unique celestial orientation got disturbed. Thereafter he went away, making a sound which was understood not by its content but by its spirit: he was only swearing at his mean neighbours.
Now should we not be answering the question raised by our lovely primate?
Can we afford to ignore them like this? When monkeys of yester years, say like our friend from the nearby bayan tree, start asking for their rights, should we be denying them like this?
And at what cost?
A. N. Nanda
Labels: short story