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Understanding Short Stories
Activity 1 :
Monkeys Don't Have A Sense Of Humour
My brother Sonu and I studied in the rather plebian central government school which made perfect sense to my parents because as a government servant, my father could get posted to any part of the country. We did not mind it because in these schools we learnt more about life and the world around us (and got to have more fun ) than the much more rarified academic atmosphere of the socially approved private schools in bigger and more centrally located towns of the country.
We must have been in our early teens when we were sent to one such school. The school was housed in an old Circuit House and was very close to the center of the town. In those days as I remember it, we were in a small town built around the river. Our school was situated on one bank of the river, and the sport field was on the top of a small hill across the river. There was a rope bridge that connected the two banks of the river ……. And boys being boys, the sport Sonu and his friends indulged in was to drive their cycles at top speed over the rope bridge, around half way down the river, the bridge became a steep incline – so they would have to cycle up-hill. Then after they reached the other side, they would turn back and cycle down full speed.
Every hill top has its own tribe of resident simians – and the tribe which lived in this hill was particularly bold, well organized in army fashion. The general was huge by simian standards and had lieutenants who were not above snatching food from the people who trekked the hill and if they resisted, the entire tribe of monkeys would launch a full scale attack and chase the hapless victim down-hill.
Over-bold monkeys and boys aged 12 is a recipe for disaster - - - -
It was a winter day, the river was mercifully not in full spate. It was lunch time in school and as was the norm, all the boys and girls from age 12 to 17 were on the river bank. The girls were sitting on the steps leading to the river, gossiping. The elder boys were playing cricket to get close to them, and the younger ones were cycling up and down the rope bridge. Sonu and his friend were also cycling. Sonu had a paper bag of peanuts in his hand and when he reached the bank near the river, he was munching
peanuts. The monkeys wanted the peanuts. Sonu had no intention of sharing them. So he did what any 12 year old cheeky boy would do – he offered the peanuts to the monkeys and then stuffed them all in his mouth, laughing at the monkeys. That was a big mistake. The general gave the call for attack. The entire battalion of monkeys descended on the bridge chattering and baring their teeth and launched an attack on Sonu. Sonu screamed and fled on the cycle , with monkeys chasing him.
Around the middle of the river, where the bridge was now on a steep incline, two of the agile lieutenants climbed on Sonu's back and one grabbed at the cycle. Sonu gave up and jumped into the river with his cycle. There was chaos by now on the river bank, with boys and girls screaming and crowding near the bridge – but no one had the guts to get on the bridge. The monkeys had pretty much won the territory and now had occupation rights on the bridge. Sonu and cycle were in the river.
Some panic stricken seniors had run to the school and got the teachers. The place being a one-horse town – my father was notified by an interested spectator and he reached school poste-haste. It was an impasse. The monkeys did not get peanuts, and had decided that we would not get the boy. They would not allow any one to get on the bridge. The school boys tried to stone them – but it only infuriated them. Some enterprising teacher tried to drive a scooter on the bridge to scare them and they pushed the scooter and climbed on the teacher's head and scratched his face.
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