Sunday, October 16, 2016

About Monkeys and Us

Monkeys. They come uninvited into your homes through the windows that you have forgotten to latch and the air holes. They raid your refrigerators, ravage the wardrobes and topple the tastefully arranged statuettes in the drawing rooms. They defecate and urinate all over, even in the most unexpected places in your bedroom leaving the home reek in their stench for many days to come. You make complaints to the residence welfare association secretary who in turn would alert the municipality or corporation authorities who if kind enough would send the monkey catchers to the area later. When the monkey catchers come with their traps and crackers, they would find no monkeys around for they might have gone to other places to raid.

Why do monkeys come into the homes that we live? They do not come to attack us; nor do they have any interest in vandalising our homes. They do what is natural to them. They come into the homes when none is around in order to find some food. We often say that monkeys steal food. They don’t steal food, they look for it and when they find it they take it away for it is natural to them; seeking food and taking it. One may ask why then they get into the wardrobes and upset the setting of the interiors. They do it because it is natural to them; that’s what they do, a little bit of frolicking and merry making after food or in search of food. They eat food and go back and before going back they may defecate or urinate where they are. Don’t we do the same? We eat to our heart’s and stomach’s fill and they look for a loo to empty our bowels. We do it in the toilets and washrooms and monkeys do where they find themselves. They really do not intend to upset you with their piss and shit. Do we upset other people when we use washrooms in the places wherever we are?

Monkeys come to our homes because the places where our homes stand today were their natural habitats years back. They were the rightful authorities of these places where we dwell today. There were full of trees laden with flowers and fruits; there were several herbs that they knew by instinct could heal many an illness. Their habitations were autonomous and mutually sustaining. Monkeys did not pluck more than they needed from the trees; they also did not destroy the tender shoots and flowers for the sake of it. They enjoyed doing a bit of revelry by hanging from the branches or jumping from one tree to the other. They respected other creatures in the forest and the co-habitation was more or less harmonious. Monkeys, like many other creatures helped the trees in pollination and seed distribution. The plot of life was going smooth till the developers came and destroyed the forests and made the clearings into huge apartment complexes. In the gated communities you created your own rules and regulations and gave the security guards all rights to scare away the monkeys.
When we talk about and against colonialism do we really think about the kind of colonialisms that we have been performing in our own habitats? We have colonised the natural lands of the monkeys and other creatures. Then we started talking about our rights as well as their rights. We never thought about those monkeys once they had evicted from their own forests that we had invaded to create high rise apartments. Once in a while, we become very conscious of the life in the nature and natural life; so we buy books about natural life and read them till we fall asleep. We grow a few trees and plants and someone out of pity and more selfishness rear pet creatures at home. This they believe would compensate all the wrongs that the human beings have done to the monkeys and other creatures of the forests. How many of us think about monkeys on a daily basis? We hardly think about them. We hardly think about the people who live in forests and in the peripheries. What difference do we make between monkeys and the forest dwellers?

 We might have forgotten about the monkeys. But they have not. They come back not with vengeance but ridden heavy with memories. Have you seen monkeys sitting on our water tanks and looking at the rising sun? Have you seen monkeys on the high ledges sitting precariously and seen like silhouettes of brooding philosophers at the cliffs and watching a beautiful sunset? What do you think? Do you think that they have come to raid your fridges? No, they have come to see the places where their ancestors had lived. They look at the sun the way their forefathers used to sit and watch the rising and the setting sun. Holding the babies close to their breasts monkey mothers tell them about the life they had once lived in these forests that have become concrete jungles now. They know that they have been an evicted lot and the land belongs to them naturally. But they do not have any paper documents to prove that it belongs to them. Their land is the land in their minds and souls. They do not come with an intention to steal the food items in your fridges. They creep into your homes because that’s how they used to do in the trees when they were living there. It is genetic. Monkeys do not forget. Even if some of them forget, the genetic inscription is so deep that they would remember at some point in their lives as the acidic memories melt down through the grooves of those inscriptions.

In the mud path of the park where I go for morning walk, I see a person standing awkwardly and turning his neck as if in a twitching and looking at me approaching. I look ahead of that man waiting and see a pack of monkeys sitting and eating some crumbs of biscuits that some religious morning walker had spilled there for the use of birds, stray dogs, ants and monkeys. I saw two right in the middle of the path and many other in the thickets along the walkway. I walk straight and the man joins me. He tells me that if we are two the monkeys don’t attack us. I tell him that even if you are alone they will not attack you for they are living their lives and you are living yours. So long as you do not pick up a stick or stone to throw at them they are not interested in you. You walk or not walk, you go for your job or not, they are least bothered. They are in their natural habitat in the forest like park. They pick up the crumbs because they see them there. Otherwise they eat the tender shoots of the plants and the unknown fruits hanging from the trees. Even the stray dogs do not bite you, I tell him because they are not really interested in you, I mean the human beings. It is us who are afraid of the natural creatures and we think that they will attack us. This fear, I believe has come from the understanding that we have encroached in to their natural territories. Colonizers always create forts and military structures to protect themselves from the people whom they rule over because they are afraid of dispossessing the people of their natural rights. Our politicians also do the same and they create a militaristic nation because they also know that they have dispossessed their own people. We are the monkey men and women but still we consider ourselves better than monkeys. 

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