Peeping through the glass door six year old Amu could see the infant monkey nibbling an apple with an unwavering gaze on the object of his consumption. Cradled in the warmth of his mother's frame, our young forefather overlooked the stare of his evolved version. Her wet tresses dampened the back of her peach coloured frock as her small fragile frame pressed against the glass door.
Amu's family had recently shifted from Dehradun to Shimla, after her father secured a new job as the manager of a resort, reclined on a hilltop.
"Look Ma, the baby monkey is eating an apple. I don't understand where he got the apple from?"
"I don't have any idea Amu, they keep on picking things from random places,'' her mother replied while arranging clothes in the cupboard.
It was Christmas. Amu's room was full with gifts, parceled from various acquaintances in different locations- her aunts, uncles, and few friends from her earlier school as well. But her favourite was a big blue ball gifted by her best friend Adi from Dehradun.
She would often play with the ball in her balcony and at times with her father as well. One sunny afternoon, on new year's eve that baby monkey paid a visit without the mother. Amu was playing all by herself. As soon as she became aware of his presence, she alighted back with fear. She didn't expect this guest in her personal territory.
The ball was still lying on the floor. Amu didn't move from her place. The monkey initially seemed puzzled; then moved forward and took the ball. Amu started crying looking at her precious possession. The young ape rolled the ball towards her and started chuckling. She took the ball in her grip and smiled. The most unexpected bond was created at that moment- a bond where language seemed inconsequential. They played the entire afternoon till Amu was called by her mother for having her evening milk.
The next day while Amu was playing on her terrace garden, the mother monkey approached her. The young one was also there. The mother came near her while Amu stood speechless. Her droopy eyes, full with fear couldn't utter a sound while her blue ball was being taken away. Drops of tears fell on the uneven floor. Silently she went in.
In spite of repeated coercing by her mother, she refused to budge. She stayed awoke that night staring at the darkened hills overlooking her balcony, through the glass door.
Next day she didn't go upstairs. Her mother was worried.
"What happened Amu? Why are you so quiet? Tell me my darling,"
She glanced at her mother with a look of suppressed anger but remained quiet. Her mother held her dainty hand and led her to the terrace. As she alighted the steps, the recurring thought approached her-"How could he?"
Now that she was at the door to the terrace, she turned her back to come down.
"Look Amu, you have left your blue ball on the terrace. Now I understand why you were unhappy. Go and play with it." Amu could see a halo around her mother's head while her lips moved as she spoke to her. The sun was just behind her.
With renewed enthusiasm, she ran to pick the ball. Her sparkling eyes were searching around the terrace.
She smiled. The baby monkey was sitting on the water tank above. Her mother didn't notice.
"She is happy for she knows
they are friends for now and ever"
(*A short tale of friendship and trust for children.)
By Nandini Sengupta