This Monkey on my back

My shoulders hurt with the dull pain that has been there for awhile. I know it is because of the monkey.

Many of you probably can’t imagine the kind of society that I live in, so a little explanation is in order. You see, I survive in a society that respects people who go around with monkeys on their backs. In order to be a person of substance, you are supposed to wear a serious countenance, and the obligatory monkey either nestling in your lap, draped around your shoulders or perched on top of your head like a crown.

People here flaunt monkeys of different sizes, shapes and colors. Most common are the ordinary rhesus macaques placidly riding on their minders. Often you see a gray langur grimacing as it passes by on top of the strong individual carrying it. There are all varieties, the Gibbons, capuchins and the pygmy marmosets, and in any given week you may come across, if you keep your eyes open, at least three kinds. Only the other day I saw a gorilla in an Audi that went past. The beast had a heavy paw on the shoulder of the poor man who drove the vehicle.

I have a gray langur to look after. It is a rather large animal, which sleeps as I write this scoop for you. It smells faintly of gasoline and everytime I look at it, I am reminded of things to take care of. Sometimes I am just uncomfortable about and fearful of payback for the things that I have already done, right or wrong. It was such a challenge to put it to sleep, it always is and anytime now it will wake up and start talking. When it does wake up and sees me relaxed, it immediately reminds me of something that I am supposed to be doing. Often it shouts very loudly demanding this and that. Trouble is, even after having had the same monkey for all my adult life, nothing about it feels familiar and predictable. There’s very little regular routine with it around. Once the gray bundle of fur smelling of gasoline wakes up and starts moving, I won’t be calm anymore. I will rush about to make calls and to arrange all matters to the satisfaction of the monkey.

All day I carry it about and all the while it keeps pointing its finger showing me where to go next. Even as I am eating, the monkey has its palm holding onto my arm, just to underline my obligation to it. At night when I fall down sleep, it sits on my chest. At least that’s the last thing I remember at night. But when I am asleep, I know the monkey has rolled off my chest.

In the mornings, I want so much to wake up like a child. I want to forget everything and be totally free. Like this friday morning, there was a cool breeze and the smell of wet earth. I had a song on my lips as I sat up in bed. Then without any warning, my dream came down crashing. I mean my langur grabbed my forehead with its cold fingers and then it climbed on my shoulders.

You may well ask as to why we, I mean those of us in my society, chose to live with monkeys. Let me admit to you we don’t like it. We are expected to start carrying monkeys only when we are old enough but once it begins, then that’s the only reality that we know. We are supposed to carry monkeys because of the fruits they bless us with and the heights they help us climb. But I am not convinced.

I am carrying mine around because it’s so unusual not to be carrying one. I might lose respect in the eyes of my own family, were I to take the monkey out in the car and leave it on the side of the road. I know that would be best for both of us. The woods off the road are lovely. I wouldn’t have a single thought about the monkey once I close the car door and return. I can resume my walk, my games and my sleep without the weight on my shoulders and without the smell of gasoline.

I wonder how it is for the others. Do you have to carry anything like that? Then write in and let me know.

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