1. Monkey Circus Comes to the Village
Collared on string leads, the charade began: husband sat on a can. Wife complained in monkey tongue. He cupped hands over ears. Her complaints got louder. Sick and tired, he cuffed her. She ran off screaming. He’d done it now. The turbaned trainer passed a banana. Husband offered, wife took, twisted off the squishy neck, ate; then eyeing spouse — gave half back. Peace was restored. Years away from arranged marriages, children whistled and clapped. The white-cheeked macaques walked forward on hind legs. Time to pay. The foreign teacher dropped three grubby rupees into the monkey cup, one for each ex-husband.
2. Interview With a Simian God
The Bollybuzz reporter came for an exclusive interview with baby Hanuman, a chubby six-year-old.
“What do you like about portraying a monkey god?
Doing the flying stunts and fighting evil.
What do school friends say?
They ask about the show. Some call me as Hanuman only.
Do you have a Hanuman doll?
No, but we keep an idol of Hanumanji in our house and pray.
Do you watch the show at home?
No, Sir. I play with my cars and on Play Station.”
The make-up artist painted on the red circle, suggesting a monkey-mouth. Then, the little god left for the shoot.
3. A Monkey’s Tale
The medical delegation came to see the living monkey god. Born with a 33cm ‘tail’, the spina bifida man had become a rare object of devotion. He monkeyed about and gobbled bananas. Believers touched his exposed stump to get healed.
One foreign doctor offered to remove it.
“No!” he said. “It is Lord Hanuman’s blessing.”
Meanwhile, twenty women had rejected him. “I will only marry she who loves my tail, otherwise I will stay bachelor like Hanumanji.”
Next, someone mentioned Spider Devi in Bangalore — the girl-child with 4 arms and 4 legs. The eminent delegation rushed to catch their flight.
4. Monkey Art
At the station, they saw the god on the pavement. He wore a gilt crown, loin cloth, his whole body painted orange-red. Garlanded with marigolds, he also had a yogi’s traditional rudraksha rosary about his neck and upheld a big gada, a shiny mace – his symbolic weapon. That would have been a marvellous feat of strength, had the club not been paper mache. Thus, the divine idol stood unblinkingly, waiting for passersby to drop money in his bowl. Then some cynic walked up and eyeballed him. The mischievous god gave a sudden primate-bark and the unbeliever ran for his life.
5. A Blind Eye
Mahatma Gandhi owned one possession – a statuette of the Three Wise Monkeys, who, together embody the proverbial maxim to “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil”. When India was partitioned in 1947, slicing Punjab like a melon down the middle, M.K Gandhi could not turn a blind eye. Neither could he stop the exodus and mutual slaughter of millions of Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims. After the killings, Nathuram Godse, an anti-Muslim Hindu Nationalist fired 3 bullets from his Beretta point blank into Gandhi’s chest. “Hey Ram!” uttered the god man dying. Hanuman’s brethren munched fresh contraband in the trees.
6. The US President and the City of Monkeys
When Barak Obama came to Delhi, everyone went on primate-alert. Already the deputy-mayor, attacked on his balcony had fallen to his death. Delhi police risked monkey uprisings, vowing to sacrifice their lives for the nation’s prestige. Monkey-catchers came out in force baiting cages with bananas. Public boulevards were patrolled by Gypsy jeeps; the Black Cat squads had anti-insurgent strategies in place; but the Government’s secret weapon and the macaque’s jungle rival, lanky langur monkeys, unleashed by handlers were set roaming around the President’s walled residence. Meanwhile, special prayers were offered in the temples appealing to Lord Hanuman to keep the peace.
7. Monkey Rule
Despite the lying of the microphone
there will be the noble bellowing of a buffalo,
despite hydro-electric schemes and promises
there will be a cuckoo drinking only raindrops,
despite the hunting season on dissidents
there will be another mongoose on the road,
despite machine guns in the bazaar
there will be a militia of mynah birds,
despite the cost of dignity
there will be a sacred cow to stop the traffic,
despite the lure of the city
the night deer will dance in the wheat field,
despite the rise of fanatics to government
there will always be monkeys to rule the ruins.