I returned to the pleasant, comforting presence of Ruskin Bond this afternoon. Picking a story at random, I read Remember this Day, in which Bond talks about a day he spent with his father in Simla. It is a special day for certain reasons I’ll keep from divulging here, in case you want to read the story.
The simplicity of Bond’s language, his propensity for making the everyday remarkable, and infusing his writing with love and warmth, came flooding back to me. Reading him reminded me of what made me start writing. Bond put me on this path and helped me find an outlet I may not have discovered otherwise. There is no activity for me as immersive and rewarding as writing. I am eternally grateful to him for guiding me here.
The Simla story struck a chord with me for another reason as well. Last afternoon, as I was working on my laptop, a shadow darkened my window. In the split second before I looked up at the presence, my mind ran through the possibilities: “This must be a crow looking for biscuits. But it feels too large to be a crow. I should probably fetch some biscuits anyway.”
Reader, I looked up to find a little monkey gripping the bars of the window grill. As it contemplated whether to enter or to abandon its post, I beat it to a reaction— by calling out to G. What I’ll do when his work from home schedule ends and he goes back to office, I really don’t know. But the noise worked, and the monkey immediately slid to the edge of the wall, its tiny paws now clamping the window frame, eyes dewy and beseeching. As I ignored its pleas with a heavy heart and shooed it away, G. tried to offer it a banana because we had missed feeding it the last time it tried to visit. I sent him away to be a good host at another window.
Bond brought the would-be visitor back to mind through this funny little incident.
“Lunch is still a long way off, so let’s take a walk,” suggested my father. And providing ourselves with more pastries, we left the mall and trudged up to the Monkey Temple at the top of Jakko hill. Here we were relieved of the pastries by the monkeys, who simply snatched them away from my unwilling hand, and we came downhill in a hurry, before I could get hungry again. Small boys and monkeys have much in common.
Not just small boys, Mr Bond.
Monkeys are a regular feature in my life. I adore them from a distance. I love looking at photos of them, or watching them scamper and steal and make other people’s lives miserable. I laugh at accounts of monkeys being themselves. I remember a funny Tinkle story where a monkey’s mum washed him and hung him to dry by his tail, but he promptly fell because there was no curl in it. (He did get it curled in the end, so I’m glad he got what he wanted. I have some redeeming qualities!)
However, I believe in karma, and I’m probably inviting some retribution through my joy in people’s monkey miseries. Maybe I’ll have a visitor tomorrow afternoon to pay for my wickedness? I’ll keep you posted.