By Pravin Trivedi
The bus was just resting, like many of its passengers. This station was a lunch break on the way to Amdavad. There was a small Hanuman Temple where the elder folks went to pray. Many monkeys, including a really naughty one, were hanging around for handouts, trying to get gifts from the believers and to play with the kids. Dev was, as usual, selling cookies and staying away from the policeman. Chachi, his cigarette and tea selling buddy was also selling his wares. He too was staying away from the policeman.
Chachi was also playing with the cover of a biscuit box to reflect sunlight on anyone or anything interesting. The monkey liked to watch him do that as he liked shiny things.
The policeman standing by was gently twirling his handcuffs. They too were shiny and also caught the monkey’s attention. Chachi shone the biscuit box cover on him and on the handcuffs alternately. Once he was sure the monkey was engaged, he speeded up the shining game driving the monkey wild. No one else was aware of what was transpiring.
The policeman put down the handcuffs on the chair near the tea stall in order to get to the tobacco pouch in his shorts pocket. Very slowly the monkey came down the tree and approached the tea stall. Then, when he was close, in a flash, he darted at the table, grabbed the handcuffs and ran up the tree with his new toy. By the time the policeman realized what had just happened, the monkey was flashing his newly acquired toy from halfway up the tree. The policeman was beside himself. His immediate reaction was to reach for his revolver. He was about to pull it from the holster but slowed down. It would not be right to use a gun in such a public place.
“And not against God in god’s house,” said the priest.
He calmed down and patted the holster instead. “But I’ll be the laughing stock at the police station,” he painfully dragged the words out of his mouth.
“May be the monkey will get tired of the new toy and throw it down soon,” said the priest, being hopeful and helpful.
“He will throw it away and I’ll never find it, and it costs a hundred rupees,” cried the policemen. “That is almost a week’s salary,” he kept on lamenting.
The priest took him by the hand and nudged him to the door of the temple, saying “May be there is a way to reason with the monkey”.
Calming the policeman down was the first step. The policeman was always mean to the boys selling things at the bus stop. He expected free cookies from Ved and tea and cigarettes from Chachi. The policeman was always rough on Ved and Chachi. The kids were afraid of him but could not figure out what to do.
Chachi said that with the priest’s help they had a plan. The priest got hold of Chachi and they went into the temple with the policeman. Chachi signaled to Ved and pulled him in too. A few minutes later they all came out and dispersed.
Life went on as usual until next day when they all gathered at their respective stations. All seemed normal except the policeman had his handcuffs in his hands and seemed happy. He was buying cookies and cigarettes from the boys and paying them money. Everyone seemed content. Chachi and the monkey were making faces at each other. Even the monkey had a shiny cover of the cookie tin high up in the tree.