The monkey business
I really don’t know why God created Monkeys. They are not quite useful to the human beings in any way although they are categorized as ‘animals’. Then why? Yes, Darwin did a study and revealed to the world that Man descended from Monkeys by an evolutionary process. The world accepted his theory. In which case, why are Monkeys existing even today ! Pity, Darwin isn’t alive to answer my question.
That is not the purpose behind this article. I feel that God put Monkeys amongst us so that they could entertain us, the human beings. We fellows do need some kind of enjoyment now and then to get our mind off the routine work, don’t we?. Children get thoroughly enthralled at all their antics. So do chaps like me.
In later days, I used to love my visit to the zoo. This is the only place you could see them. And the area I spent some 10 or 15 minutes was invariably the monkey cage.
They are nice to watch. If you show your teeth at them they will return the photo shot. If you raise your arm in an act of throwing a stone at them, they too would repeat the gesture. This is what I like about them.
“How do they spend their time at their natural habitat,” I wanted to know. For such a research work I was required to go into some thick forest. Being a city bred fellow, such visits appeared impossible. And then… then… a grand opportunity came my way when I attended a seminar in a hill station some 300 miles away from Chennai city.
The spacious compound was full of tall oak trees where some 50 odd monkeys had taken residence. Ah, was I thrilled !. After the seminar proceeding was over for the day, I stuck my neck out of the window and sighted these species. They always stayed on the trees and seldom came down. Where was the need to come down anyway? They had all the fruits, flowers and leaves they needed right on the trees.
“Óh, no sir,” the caretaker apprised me. “They do like to come down and steal things in the room of the guests. Once they see me and my man Friday, they would charge out to the trees. On several occasions, Friday and I had thrashed a few monkeys mercilessly with our long stick. So, they are dead scared of our presence. One shout from either of us, they would leap out and perch on the tree branches?” The CT paused and confessed, “They would also then make faces at me and show a cave-like mouth in mockery once they are in the safety of a height of 10 feet from the ground…” He laughed at his own joke.
I couldn’t tell the CT and Friday that I loved to see all their pranks and clowning; I relished every bit of their tomfoolery.
On the second day of my seminar, I came out of my room to the tree area. None of the monkeys would climb down. Perhaps they mistook me for the ferocious CT.
Most of them were in groups; some were family groups; some were young fellows and some loners. The family group consisted of nursing mothers with a little fellow pasted to their abdomen. One particular mother monkey caught my attention. Her little sonny was perhaps about 3 months old and the mother desired that she train him to be on his own. “How long are you going to be on mother’s milk, boy? Isn’t it time that you stood on your own legs and ate flowers and fruits from these trees?” The sonny boy seemed to agree with her. “You have to be very watchful of the treacherous CT. Never get down to the ground, OK? Always remain on the trees, OK?
And you must learn to jump from one branch to the other. Otherwise, how could you pluck the fruits on the branches above or at the next tree? “
“Now, here is the first lesson on branch hopping,” she said and displayed a demonstration jump to the next branch which was some 2 meters away. The sonny boy was very keen to do the feat himself but was terribly scared. The mother encouraged him. She was a good teacher too. First, she would explain the flying-act by word of mouth coupled with movements of her hands. Then she would ask, “Have you understood?” The little young man would nod in the affirmative. Then she would demonstrate the flying operation in slow motion for his benefit. Here again, she explained – keep your front legs stretched out and use the back legs to push forward: like this, not like this, but like this. All right? From the student’s point of view, the whole thing appeared very simple and almost a child’s play. “Yes, I can do that mummy,” he said confidently and plunged to the next branch. Alas ! The poor fellow fell to the ground with a thud. The mother dived down and picked up her son. “Thank God, you aren’t hurt. Lucky the CT isn’t around either. That monster of a fellow…..?” she growled and gnashed her teeth.
In the meantime, the frightened student had developed cold feet. “No, I can’t do branch-flying. You carry me like before…”
“What? Don’t you want to be a man yourself? Idiot of a son…”
The son felt offended at the reprimand and also at the castigation.He was a very sensitive fellow and sulked for a while. But, mother didn’t want to give up. Having pacified him, she went through the whole drill and showed the demonstration jump once again.
The student wasn’t impressed at all. His fear became all the more pronounced. He grumbled to himself saying, ”Mummy thinks that all baby monkeys are like her.”
About this time, the mother came out with some new techniques and fresh set of instructions. The little fellow shook his head. “Nothing doing, mummy. I can’t. I am scared to death…”
“Scared?” the mother tched tched heavily reflecting, “I can’t be very proud of you, can I? At your age…..”
The sonny boy felt hurt again. “Mummy is looking down upon me,” he complained. “Your generation and my generation has a long gap, you know mummy? Things have changed….” And he had the audacity to involve his Dad in the dispute. Dad was a no nonsense type father. He never viewed the current generation with any aplomb at all. “Listen to your mummy, sonny boy. Do you want me to jump for you or what?” And Dad washed off his hands.
Sonny boy now came close and glued himself to mummy’s tummy. Nothing would detach him from the mother’s fold. “You carry me like before. All right, mummy? And he elongated his small body and kissed his mother who felt moved instantly and
postponed the training class to the following week.
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