Misry opened her eyes to that peculiar sound. She was more curious than terrified. She jumped out of the bed and followed the source of the sound.
“Ma! There is something in there, in the bathroom,” Misry shrieked.
Madhavi came running and hugged her.
“Nothing dear. Don’t panic.” She murmured in Misry’s ears.
Misry hugged back her mom.
The sound repeated and this time Misry was more curious to see. She pushed open the bathroom door before Madhavi could stop her.
And there on the bathroom shelf sat a baby ape. Its fur was as black as coal and the hair on its face looked more like a trimmed beard. The beast looked more cute than dangerous.
“Oh MY God! It’s so cute. Ma what should I call him?” Misry was already thinking of a name. The excitement was clearly shown on her face. She was fidgeting.
Watching her, the small animal also started jumping on the bathroom rack making that sound again.
Madhavi closed the bathroom door immediately and said to Misry, “Dear, don’t you open the door or else it can hurt you.”
“But Ma. What is it…. a monkey??” Misry asked.
“No dear. It is a baby Hoolock. The patrolling team found it wounded in the forest. So they brought it here.” Madhavi explained to the girl.
“Are we going to keep it?” Misry was waiting to hear a yes.
“No dear. It’s a wild animal and we cannot tame it. Once it recovers we will send it back to its family. ” Madhavi replied.
“He has a family?” Misry was very concerned.
“Of course dear! It has mama, papa, brother, sister, aunt, uncle all waiting for it to come home.” Madhavi answered.
“Oh! The poor chap. He must be very lonely here?” Misry was sorry for the animal.
“Yes my child! It misses its family. But now it is very weak and wounded and needs our care and supervision. Once it is strong again, we will reunite it with its family. ” Madhavi replied.
Misry was quite relieved to hear that. She had developed a special liking for the helpless animal. She wanted to take care of it and help its reunion.
“Ma, What shall I call him?”
Just then the ape called out again.
“I think it wants to be called Hoolock.” Madhavi suggested.
Misry called out its name,”Hoooo….ollll…k…”
The ape responded back in tune. Their exchange of words continued for some more time.
Later in the day,
“Misry, go to bath? How many times do I have to remind you sweetheart?” Madhavi warned.
“Ma, how can I take bath in the bathroom?” Misry replied.
“Why? Whats wrong in the bathroom?” Madhavi asked carelessly.
“Shh….Don’t you know? How can a girl take bath in front of a boy?” Misry said in a whisper.
“Boy?? Who is the boy?” Madhavi was surprised.
“Hoolock. He is a boy.”Misry replied sweetly.
Madhavi was wondering what made the child think so. She asked Misry, smiling, “How do you know dear?”
“Why, didn’t you notice how badly he sings? Just like Daddy.” Misry revealed.
Madahvi could not control herself and laughed out loud.
“Ma you are laughing. Now this is a real problem. How can we females use the bathroom with a boy in there?,” asked Misry looking very serious.
“Opps! I am sorry. Yes it is very serious issue. We need to resolve it first.” Madhavi sounded concerned.
She went to the kitchen and brought a banana. As she opened the bathroom door the baby Hoolock gibbon started hooting again. Madhavi peeled the banana and gave it to the ape. Immediately its hooting stopped and it was busier eating the fruit.
“Now he won’t see you as he is busy eating. Meanwhile you can take bath quickly.” Madhavi suggested.
Misry walked in and found the ape least bothered. It was sitting on the bathroom shelf with its back towards her. Misry had her bath quickly and came out of the bathroom.
Since then every time she had to use the bathroom she always brought a fruit along for the ape. The small animal was so habituated to it that every time somebody entered the bathroom it started hooting to earn a fruit.
Thus, as long as it stayed in the house, it was mandatory to offer a fruit to the ape before entering the bathroom otherwise it hooted in various voice modulations that the entire camp came to know that someone was using the bathroom in the house. It was very embarrassing.
Imagine walking to the bathroom in the middle of the night and still remembering to take a fruit along. And what if there was no fruit left. The little guy wouldn’t let anyone in.
The elders were so pissed off with this that they blamed Misry for the inconvenience. But all they could say was, “GROW UP MESSY!”
While monkeys and langurs are a common enough site in many Indian states, their cousins, the great man-like apes namely gorillas and orangutans are not found in India. The only tribe of apes inhabiting the country is the Hoolock Gibbons, found in the North-east forests. And because it is the only one, the ape is unquestionably a precious jewel of the Indian forest. More about Hoolock Gibbon
This is #day7 of the AtoZblogging Challenge throughout April.
26 stories in 26 days. I am attempting very very short stories series with GROW UP MESSY – The sweet sour story of a 5 year old girl. Follow my blog for the next story of Messy.
You can read the other post in the series here