21/12/11 3—4 pm
However much of a nuisance these monkeys are to our coconuts and banana crops, there’s always a moment of reflection when one of them dies. One minute we’re shouting and waving sticks and berating them with bared teeth and in the next one of them is found dying. This one, a female (you can tell by the red face and backside) became seriously ill in a shady area outside my little Cave. If it sounds romantic, I’m afraid the wood ants had already started crawling all over her body while she was still breathing and twitching. Sad, because they are some of the nastiest ants I know. Rumi took some insecticide powder and sprinkled it over her body and I think it deterred them a little.
|Wide-eyed in her Final moments|
Her Nipple Swollen with Undrunk Milk
The human Mum with two of her children came out to see and to take a few photographs. You have to be very careful when you’re dealing with a dying ape because the others are near-by watching what it is you’re getting up to. Even if she’s there because they’d given her a good decking they still don’t really want us horning in on their act, and they have been known to bide their time and to take revenge. Moreover a dying monkey can easily deliver quite a nip, as a final sign of affection I’m told.
Nonetheless we took a stout bamboo cane and propped her up a little so she could sit for a few seconds and see that someone had a little concern for her, holding her no grudge. She opened her eyes wide and looked straight at me. They were very bright and very clear and it look as though her mind was clear too. Just a straight look, all difference between man and animal swept away in that brief moment. “You’ll be all right in a minute, you poor old thing” I said. As if in reply she blinked at me and then she closed here lids. Her eyes were wide open one second and in the next they’d closed, long lashes she had like a doll, and her eyes closed just the same. It’s somehow tough not to sniff back a tear in situations such as this.
|An Awesome Moment|
22/12/11 10:28:03 AM
With humans it’s customary to leave the body outside all night in order to give it some air and to check whether death really has occurred. After we’d established her death, Rumi went on to give her a bath, her first and final ablution. All the relatives must have been watching from the trees because after we’d retired they came one by one to sit at the new flat patch of ground, to pay their final respects to a lady who must have been well known in the community. I get the feeling that the abandoned child will have found his place within this microtribe and that perhaps lessons have been learned by both sides.
While they were gathered round her grave they were quiet but they melted away on our approach. She’s buried by the side of the Cave where I go each day and I can see the spot from where I type these lines. I guess we could have put the camera against the fine-gauge mosquito mesh in the window frame and snapped the shutter, but it didn’t feel right. They showed us more than a little respect by coming to the place where we had dug and shovelled, and it was right to return that measure of propriety, to show that though the war still rages between us, we don’t hold any personal enmity.