When Ramona and I got up this morning, we already heard that outside something was going on, different than on a normal day. While we got dressed and woke up Apra, we saw some schoolchildren walking by our window towards the school, then heard the noise of the school door followed by the grunts and growls of monkeys. The next thing we saw was the kids running past our window again.
When we came out of our room, we saw that there was a crowd of children standing at the path that leads to the school but not going any further, all excitedly talking with each other, some laughing, some looking a little bit afraid. We heard pieces of what they say ‘A monkey died…’ and ‘…monkeys are in the classroom…’
Obviously wondering what was going on, we asked Purnendu who just arrived there with the boys of the Ashram, all with sticks in the hands. There had obviously been a fight among monkeys in the night or the early morning and one monkey was now lying injured in the schoolyard. At least ten to fifteen monkeys were in the yard, on the walls and on the school roof, protecting and defending the monkey from anybody coming close – and thus preventing the schoolchildren from going into their classrooms, actually preventing anybody from even entering the schoolyard.
They were ready to attack anybody coming too close to the school. Any threatening with sticks could not make them waver from their idea of protecting their fellow. Not daring to go further in, the boys, Purnendu and Yashendu had to retreat and think of another way to make the monkey move.
It was a very difficult situation. Monkeys in general stick with a sick fellow not only until he gets better or dies but even after his death, they will stay and protect his body for a long time. This behaviour is something touching to see and something that we humans should maybe relearn from our ancestors but today it posed a challenge to our school. We were not sure about the state of health of this monkey but the end-of-year-exams of the school are going on and we could not wait for a week or more for the monkey to either get better or die and only then start school again.
The main idea was to get the injured monkey out of the school in some way but that plan already failed at the attempt to get towards the monkey. What we did then was to send someone and buy some firecrackers. The school kids got more and more excited seeing this. We made them stand back and the boys just wanted to start lighting the firecrackers when we saw that the injured monkey had dragged himself until the door of the schoolyard. When we came closer however, the other monkeys started surrounding him again, showing their teeth. This is when the firecrackers came into operation – after two or three bangs, the other monkeys fled and we could put a mat in front of the injured monkey and, with the help of a basket and a stick, move him on top of that mat. The boys then pushed the mat with the monkey the whole way to the gate and finally carried him in the mat to a free plot in the neighbourhood where they put him down.
There he can now either recover or breathe his last breath, surrounded by his monkey friends and family, undisturbed by children or firecrackers.
The children and we thus had an exciting start into this day and I thought I should share this story with you.