Delhi Diary- Two monkeys


„Read On, Read On“, scream the children at noon. You have to come. The monkey is here. I am most reluctant, not only because the hallway is as usual full of people, but I do not like monkeys at all. But when I get up, I see it is not the usual bunch of monkeys that search for food in the dumpster outside but two monkeys on a rope attract the children more than usual. I am even more reluctant than usual, because I do not like monkeys at all but even less I like those who travel around with monkeys on a rope or better on a chain. The man, who accompanies the monkeys is drunk. He carries with him a small drum and is so drunk that the usual stories he tells to entertain the children are blurry and hard to understand. The monkeys apart from their obvious neglect, look at their master with disdain. They do the tricks like businessman, eager to impress but without much effort, rather ironically they jump up and down, turn back and forth to the music, their eyes half-closed and not half-open, they walk on their feet, self-conscious and look at us with pure boredom. We have nothing to offer, their master and you can see it in their look is nothing more than a bit of pity for the silly drunkard, who merely is able to walk straight. The children are nevertheless impressed and look at the creatures with a mixture of admiration and fear. The drunk master goes on with his shriek voice and silly tale that praises the wit and the cleverness, the wild heart and the godly soul of the animals. Nothing of this you will see here. Here, you see two outworn athletes, who do the tricks and to whom, we mean nothing. Nothing of the two monkeys resembles Rilke’s panther, whose glowing eyes were a constant reminder of free and wilder days, he the panther  had given up his desires, but the two monkeys have given up hope long ago. Ashamed I feel, looking at them, being neither human nor animal, but a disturbing mixture of professionalism and broken souls. Purpose-made and over the purpose everything else got lost. Outrageous i think it is that I stand here and stare, cheap voyeurism and therefore mocked by the monkeys. Then I turn around and haste back. I do not even look back, when the drunkard keeps shouting obscenities at me, demanding Bakshish for his show. Bakshish, Bakshish, his blaring voice is to be heard and he giggles as if this would be something particular funny. But nothing beside of the children, who stare in amazement and fascination is funny here. Half an hour later the drunkard has totally lost control over himself and is barely able to hold the rope tight, he asks for money and the children throw coins to the monkeys, those pick the coins up, licking and kissing them, before handing them over. Pecunia non  olet, the Romans said, and the drunkard collects the coins from the monkeys, who again look at him with sheer mockery and when he stumbles away, they walk behind him, more elastic and faster than I had assumed, such as if for a second or so, the reminder of another life came back to them before they reach another destination for business as usual.

4 thoughts on “Delhi Diary- Two monkeys

  1. So much detail in the photograph and your writing to help us understand how you were feeling as you watched the monkeys and their drunken owner. A phrase that really caught me was „more elastic and faster than I thought“ because it contrasts the weary disdain of the monkey as they do their job and their natural selves and movements. Very nice.

  2. I have to say, these monkeys kept me busy for quite a while and in a most disturbing way. Often they show us a mirror and I think we do not look too pleasent in the picture the mirror reflects

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