|Photo Credit: Swapan Haldar
A monkey is defined as a primate of the Haplorrhini suborder and simian infraorder, either an Old World monkey or a New World monkey, but excluding apes and humans. But they love to ape the humans! Swapna Haldar, recollects this funny story from her daughter’s childhood.
We were living in a single storied house with a big backyard which had many trees, mostly mangoes. Monkeys were the regular visitors to those trees. My daughter, who was only a year and a half old, and could speak, loved to see the monkeys jumping from one tree to the other. Sometimes, while lying on the roof, they would crane their necks to look at her as if they wanted to be her friends. Once we went out of town for a few days and when we returned, the monkeys were not there. I was happy that the monkey nuisance was over but my daughter was not. Then one day she came running to the kitchen exclaiming, “Ma, the monkeys have come back!” I came out and saw one monkey craning it’s neck looking at her very happily.
In those days there were hardly any multistoried houses in our locality. But in front of our house, on the other side of the lane, two or three double storied buildings were there. Our friends lived on the top floor of one of those buildings. The houseowner, who had a big family, lived in a small part of the first floor and their kitchen was on the top floor. Our friend told us that their cook cursed herself everyday as she had to make a lot of chapaties (flattened bread) for lunch and dinner for the big family. One day our friend’s newly married wife was sitting in her room when she heard a strange sound. She rushed out of her room and saw the houseowner’s kitchen door was wide open. And on the rooftop terrace outside the kitchen, a large number of monkeys were sitting in a row and the biggest of them, probable the leader or the mother, was carrying a pile of chapaties in one hand and serving them to the monkeys with the other hand, just like the cook served the houseowner’s family everyday!
Years passed, my husband and I were visiting Bombay. We went to the famous Elephanta Caves. After getting down from the boat, we were climbing the steps to reach the caves and saw tourists quenching their thirst with sodas from tetra packs. We climbed a few more steps and saw a monkey sipping the same! Memories of my small baby and the monkeys came back to me like a flashback!