I have been writing ever since I could pencil two alphabets together … even though no one in my immediate family cares about what I pen. Being the thick skinned tolerant person I am, I forgave ignored them and carried on nonetheless. Two of my stories have actually been published in Creative Writing and Translation Studies – Reader for Class XII. Am thrilled and to prevent myself from getting big-headed, I will just go and read blog entries of me falling in ditches or my evil spawn getting the best of me. Here is one of them :
MONKEYS DON’T HAVE A SENSE OF HUMOUR
My brother Sonu and I studied in the rather plebian Kendriya Vidyalaya – which made perfect sense to my parents because as a government servant, my father could get posted to any part of the country the Powers That Be deemed fit. We did not mind it because in the schools like Kendriya Vidyalaya we learnt more about life and the world around us (and got to have more fun ) than the much more rarified academic atmosphere of the socially approved private schools in bigger and more centrally located towns of the country.
We must have been in our early teens when we were sent to KV Imphal, Manipur. The school was housed in an old Circuit House and was very close to the Hanuman Mandir of the town. Imphal in those days as I remember it was a small town built around the river Imphal. Our school was situated on one bank of the river, and the Hanuman Mandir was on the top of a small hill across the river. There was a rope bridge that connected the two banks of the river ……. And boys being boys, the sport Sonu and his friends indulged in was to drive their cycles at top speed over the rope bridge, around half way down the river, the bridge became a steep incline – so they would have to cycle up-hill. Then after they reached the other side, they would turn back and cycle down full speed.
Every Hanuman Mandir has its own tribe of resident simians – and the tribe which lived in this temple was particularly bold, well organized in army fashion. The general was huge by simian standards and had lieutenants who were not above snatching prasad from the devotees that visited the mandir and if the devotees resisted, the entire tribe of monkeys would launch a full scale attack and chase the hapless devotee down-hill. Every day, they would wait for the temple bell to ring and would gather on the steps of the mandir to attack the devotees.
Over-bold monkeys and boys aged 12 is a recipe for disaster – – – –
It was a winter day, the river was mercifully not in full spate. It was lunch time in school and as was the norm, all the boys and girls from age 12 to 17 were on the river bank. The girls were sitting on the steps leading to the river, gossiping. The elder boys were ogling girls or trying to get close to them, and the younger ones were cycling up and down the rope bridge. Sonu and his friend were also cycling. Sonu had a paper bag of peanuts in his hand and when he reached the bank near the mandir, he was munching peanuts. The monkeys wanted the peanuts. Sonu had no intention of sharing them. So he did what any 12 year old cheeky boy would do – he offered the peanuts to the monkeys and then stuffed them all in his mouth, laughing at the monkeys. That was a big mistake. The general gave the call for attack. The entire battalion of monkeys descended on the bridge chattering and baring their teeth and launched an attack on Sonu. Sonu screamed and fled on the cycle , with monkeys chasing him. Around the middle of the river, where the bridge was now on a steep incline, two of the agile lieutenants climbed on Sonu’s back and one grabbed at the cycle. Sonu gave up and jumped into the river with his cycle. There was chaos by now on the river bank, with boys and girls screaming and crowding near the bridge – but no one had the guts to get on the bridge. The monkeys had pretty much won the territory and now had occupation rights on the bridge. Sonu and cycle were in the river. Some panic stricken seniors had run to the school and got the teachers. Imphal being a one-horse town – my father was notified by an interested spectator and he reached school poste-haste.
It was an impasse. The monkeys did not get peanuts, and had decided that we would not get the boy. They would not allow any one to get on the bridge. The school boys tried to stone them – but it only infuriated them. Some enterprising teacher tried to drive a scooter on the bridge to scare them and they pushed the scooter and climbed on the teacher’s head and scratched his face.
One hour had passed and Sonu by now was quite chastened, and was shivering in the water. The pandit from the mandir was called and he tried to pacify the monkeys but it did not work. The kids were delighted that they now had got one hour of unscheduled freedom from classes. A crowd had gathered on the river bank and every one had their own inputs to give. The monkeys by now had settled on the bridge, suckling the young and grooming each other. Stoning had had no effect, temple bells had been rung but the monkeys who normally ran uphill in the hope of getting prasad did not respond to the temple bells. Even scooters that would normally make them flee did not work.
No one knew how to break this impasse. In this situation, an old lady about 70 years of age came to the river bank. Upon enquiring the cause of the commotion, she just said – go get a lot of peanuts from the market. 5 kgs of peanuts were procured and offered to the monkeys. The general came up, inspected the peanuts, was satisfied and ordered a retreat. The monkeys collected the sack, and ran off to their side of the river and a shivering chastened Sonu was hauled up from the river.
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