It rained on Saturday. What came down was not water, but crisp green currency notes that drove the crowd into a state of frenzy. Men and women scampered about, collecting the notes which appeared to fly down from the sky. Religious people thanked the mighty one as they stooped to pick up the money alongside the godless vagrants.
The event took place in a pilgrimage town infested with apes, and the operator of this act was not Vishnu but a menacing simian with a wicked sense of humour.
Monkeys in such parts of India are well known for their blackmail tactics to acquire goodies. They are a clever race that aims at the travellers’ purses, spectacles and other valuables. Quite aware of the importance of these items they snatch these for the purpose of barter. In exchange for some ‘pedas, nuts’ they return the loot. Hilarious as it sounds, the people who encounter such events are the victims of a regulated crime, well thought out and cleverly executed.
The large simian sat high up on the ledge of a shop and watched the fun, sniggering at the hopelessness of the humans below. He had acquired a lady’s bag full of 500 rupee notes from a woman who had come with her family on a religious tour.
After visiting the temple the family was taking rounds of the shops nearby when out of nowhere came a large monkey and snatching the bag from the lady disappeared in a flash. The sudden act left the family speechless for a while. As they regained composure they went about, asking people for assistance. Meanwhile, the hairy ape sat on the top of a ledge going through the contents of his latest grab. The money caught his attention and the treacherous soul decided to have some fun. He pulled and prodded till the notes came loose and then started showering them down on the street below. He sat upstairs and enjoyed thoroughly the sight that followed – humans behaving like stray dogs, pushing and nudging trying to bundle up as much money as possible. While some youngsters tried to help the tearful woman by collecting the cash for her, others were in their own greedy mode hurrying about the street trying to get richer. Not a lot of the amount was retrieved and the unfortunate family returned home with heavy hearts.
The increasing terror of monkeys in worship areas has become a major concern. But in a place where cows are worshipped and monkeys are ‘hanuman ji’s descendants’, such incidents are swallowed with a pinch of sugar.
© 2016 Tiyasha Maitra