I will not forget in a hurry the story of a brainy monkey who saved its dear life by outwitting a crocodile. In his poetry collection, Beastly Tales From Here And There, Vikram Seth has alluringly chronicled the tale.
I recalled the poem the other day when my wife and I had an encounter with two monkeys. As she entered the kitchen in the morning for routine chores, my wife was greeted by a rare sight which at once astonished and frightened her. She beheld two monkeys, one sitting on the platform and the other on the broad windowsill, both merrily munching on bananas. The latter was holding a bunch of bananas in its hands, close to its belly, quite possessively, the way monkeys carry their young. There were a couple of apples also on the platform beside the bananas, but these remained untouched as though the simians do not subscribe to the old English adage: An apple a day keeps a doctor away!
Frozen in fright, my wife could not scream. A few minutes later, when she came round, she ran back to me and said with anxiety writ large on her face: “Look, we have two guests, uninvited, though in the kitchen because you did not shut the windows last night.” She was right. I was to blame for leaving the windows open as the onus was on me to close them every day before dusk to keep mosquitoes out.
There is a spreading peepul tree in the compound near the building. The monkeys had to take only an easy jump from it to reach the kitchen window. The open windows were a welcome arch for them!
Monkeys are occasional visitors to our colony and the neighbouring ones. They stray from a forest known as Aarey Milk Colony, considered the lungs of Mumbai, which is only a stone’s throw from the suburb we live in.
The simians, the very sight of which amuses all, especially children, have become the talk of the town these days. They have even mastered the technique of opening a shut but unlatched window.
If monkeys are occasional visitors to the suburbs, can leopards be far behind? Only the other day an adult leopard was seen on the CCTV footage prowling in the colony, possibly for prey.
Smaller cities too have their share of leopard sightings. Recently, a doctor in Nashik, when returning home from his morning constitutional, saw himself face to face with a leopard perched atop a wardrobe in his guest bedroom. His wife was sleeping in the bedroom, snoring to glory, oblivious of the presence of a wild beast in the adjacent room!
Thank goodness, it was only monkeys, not any beast of prey, that my wife and I encountered that morning. We counted our blessings!