I am not a great animal lover. I love animals so long as they remain a safe distance from me. I’ve often thought of getting a dog for Lil D, but am simply unable to reconcile to sharing my space with an animal at such close quarters. I guess my main fear is that animals can be unpredictable, and I definitely don’t have that much faith in my decoding signals.
In our apartment complex, a troop of monkeys hang around quite a bit (and I mean the real monkeys). Prior to the complex, there were plenty of trees and I suppose these monkeys were the original residents or their descendants. Now our complex houses a couple of stray dogs, quite a few cats, and there are so many birds which tweet and chirp merrily outside our windows — I’ve had gorgeous bulbuls and tiny sunbirds as visitors to the flowers in our balcony garden. The monkeys too added to this merry mix occasionally, pulling up a plant or two here and there, and scaring them away was not very difficult.
That changed quite a bit when the wooded area behind our complex was cleared out for, yes, you guessed right, yet another apartment complex. Suddenly, the monkeys had nowhere to go, and so they made a beeline for our complex. Open windows meant access to food, balcony gardens meant plenty of green stuff to chew on. The troop began to get aggressive, even threatening maids enough to make them abandon their shopping bags stuffed with veggies or fruits or snacks, and run for their lives. I even advised Lil D to just drop her bag and back away if the monkeys approached her at any time.
With DH being the avid gardener, our garden was not spared either. My strategy was very simple: I would close all our doors and windows, and retire to a corner where I could not even see the monkeys. After a while, I would come cautiously to the window and check if they had left and then survey the damage.
Of late, two females would park themselves on the balcony of the neighbouring flat, and let their two kids loose in our balcony. It amused me because it reminded me so much of the way we take our kids to the park and sit in a corner gossiping, whilst keeping an eye on the children. The two kiddos loved the marigolds and spent a lot of time pulling out the petals and nibbling at the tender buds. I even tried to take some pictures, but they were too fast and restless.
This morning, there was a huge commotion outside our apartment. Imagine our horror when we learnt that two monkeys were shot at, yes, actually SHOT at, and KILLED! Both were females, and I’m not sure if the rumour that one of them was pregnant was actually true. The chaos that followed lasted nearly five hours. The cops arrived, someone had intimated the media, the perpetrator was apparently absconding, and a crowd of drivers and security personnel was swarming around.
Now usually I don’t react to news of death too much. I do shed a few tears but am able to recover pretty quickly and reconcile myself to the situation. However, in this case, I could not control my tears for quite some time. My heart went out to the little kids who had been happily gamboling in my garden a few days ago. It hurt so badly that we could be so cruel: first, we took away their habitat, and now we had taken away their lives. Why couldn’t we learn to live and let live? Was it so difficult?
Perhaps the monkeys heard my thoughts, for the survivors — a male and the two kids — came to our balcony. They feasted on the marigolds, on a sweet potato that Lil D had planted, and chewed on some curry leaves. Silly as it may seem, and as destroyed as our garden was, it gave me some solace.
I just hope that these three monkeys get moved to a safe environment where they can live the way they were meant to live. And I do pray that humans will learn to be just a tad more tolerant of other life forms. A very sad day indeed.