Ma and the Monkey
My parents are a-visiting and last Sunday we decided to take them to Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary, some 120 km from Bangalore. My mom is what you call an ‘enthu cutlet’. She was happy and chirpy and gladly assented when we asked her to keep a look out for birds. Too bad most of the birds she saw turned out to be babblers. Again and again and again. Oh well, never mind.
Soon, the road sides began to be dotted with bonnet macaques. Or in plain words – monkeys. Large joint families of monkeys sat by the road, eliciting angry comments from us. The husband and I were no big fans of this species. Neither was my dad. The only person who seemed to be all bright-eyed with the appearance of the monkeys was my mom. (And my son, but we shall not consider a two-year old’s definition of ‘interesting’ here)
“I love monkeys,” she said fondly. “Their activities are so endearing!”
We refrained from replying back. To make matters worse, people who were visiting the temples inside the jungle provided the monkeys with food. They sat bang in the middle of the road, enjoying their feast, turning a blind eye and a deaf ear to approaching vehicles. As we didn’t want to honk the car-horn in the jungle, the husband had to drive carefully not to run over their tails.
Ma saw them tearing away at the food and came up with “We should have got some food for these poor creatures.” And then again, “Look how expectantly they are looking up at us, with so much hope.”
We decided to ignore her totally. In some time, we reached a temple by the side of the river Cauvery and stopped the car. The husband wanted to take a walk by the river side and we were glad of an opportunity to stretch our limbs. I told Ma to give her purse to Deta as a precaution against a possible monkey attack. The husband and I then walked in front with our little brat while Ma and Deta followed us.
A few seconds later, I heard a gasp behind me and turned around to see a huge monkey swinging off a tree to land near my parents. That gasp had come from Ma. She stood rooted to the spot at the sight of the simian. Deta, who was known for ‘violent actions against monkeys’, controlled his urge and walked off briskly, taking Ma by her elbow. The monkey would not give up. It started stalking Ma and Deta resolutely. Sometimes, it would a go a step further and park itself on the ground, blocking Ma and Deta’s path. The monkey would then sit and stare at them, without batting an eyelid.
Ma’s face was increasingly turning ashen. At one point, she could not bear the stress of being followed by the monkey at such close quarters and blurted out that she should have stayed back in the car rather than dying here. Somehow she was convinced that the monkey will not spare her life.
“Kiyo moribo ahisilu (why did I have to come here to die)”, was her recurring regret.
I did not have the heart to remind her that these were her own ‘endearing’ creatures. Anyways, we took pity on her state and returned to the car. She sighed in relief as we reached the car and opened the car door to let herself in. Suddenly there was a loud scrambling noise accompanied by an ear-piercing yell. Ma slammed the door hard and sat stunned with her hand on her heart. It was a minute later when we saw the monkey ripping up a packet of biscuit that we realized what had happened. The monkey had seized the opportunity of swiftly reaching inside the car and snatching the biscuit packet lying on the seat, the moment Ma had opened the car door. The poor lady had imagined the thieving action to be a full-fledged attack on her and hence that scream.
We started the car and drove on in silence. I wondered if Ma had regained her composure. Deta then decided to break through the disquieting quietness.
“At least the monkey got some food,” he said sagely. “Think of it that way.”
We could not control ourselves at this point and burst out laughing. Ma threw an icy glare at Deta and turned away her head. The journey had suddenly become an interesting one.