Too Much Monkey Business
Mona’s face looked almost human. Her doe-like eyes sparkled with glee when she stretched her furry neck skyward to take in the sight of the rainbow mountain which towered in front of her. Little Lisa held onto her mum’s underbelly with ease when Mona took a leap up to the first tier of the succulent fruit.
Hundreds of onlookers, some with jaws, agape, some in a monkey mask, snapped and watched the fussy throng as they danced and pranced their way up to the apex of a pyramid of bananas, oranges, dates, in fact, every type of fresh fruit you can imagine. Tables set to one side were adorned with plates of everything you’d see at a children’s tea party, yes, including ice cream.
It’s the last Sunday in November and the powder blue skies are a perfect backdrop to the Monkey Festival in Thailand. The overgrown Khmer ruins that the monkeys call home doesn’t look in the least, out of place.
One keen photographer knelt down to take the perfect shot of an enthusiastic juvenile macaque as it perched on his daughter’s shoulder, unaware this was a decoy while the monkey’s ally crept up behind to snatch a hold of the unwary snappers gadget bag.
I’m reminded to hang on tight to everything as I slump down on a thick stone beside the ruin for a swig of water as the ninety-degree heat takes its toll. Within a minute, I’m surrounded by thieves of all ages who make up this motley band of fun-loving creatures.
The food pile is now a squishy mess. I seek out, Mona, she’s still about, her baby close by, examining the remnants of the food mountain with the dexterity of a surgeon in the operating theatre. Lisa, the little monkey, realises the pineapple has prickly bits attached to it and shakes it with all her might before tumbling over time after time as the pineapple wins the fight. Until that is, Mona moves in to show her little offspring how it’s done.
I see the monkeys as an exaggerated version of ourselves, in how they interact. They have fun, they fight, they teach one another and I’m reminded that no matter how different we are, tolerance brings good fortune to all. The latter especially is why the people of Thailand revere the macaques and hold them in such good stead. The next time I saw Mona and her baby, they were snuggled on a shady ledge, bellies about to pop and a dark blanket racing to catch a setting sun.