Bio Note: In this small Himalayan town that faces some of the highest mountain ranges, there is a great distaste for monkeys. Undoubtedly, they cause disruption. They break television cables, pull out lids of water tanks, pluck ripening fruits from trees, dig up soil. There are hardly any forests left with trees of wild fruit, so packs of monkeys come to eat what they can from human habitation. Still, it's a heart rending sight to see monkeys being hurt by airgun pellets aimed at them. The shooter informed me that a pellet could even kill if shot at close range or aimed at the brain. I wrote this poem below with mixed emotions.
My neighbour stood on the terrace of his lofty hill home— a retired army general in familiar stance— feet firmly planted, cheek resting on the rear of his airgun— the stock absorbing the aftershock from shooting a high powered rifle. But not for the monkeys. A silent cypress quivers absorbing a hidden creature's shock till branches go still again. He said they ate all the fruit from his pear and plum trees, his blue-netted apples and peaches: a pitched battle between primate and man. He said the gun had pellets not bullets went straight over long distances—pricking, startling, not hurting, not really. Unlike copper coated lead bullets that rotated through distances with the aim to maim, kill. On a cold rainy morning, a baby monkey sat close to its mother on our parapet wall, learning to shake out wet fur. The sound of a flat crack and the mother fell forty feet below onto the garden hedge. The baby leapt after her, clung to her trembling chest. Her leg dangled as she held her baby close, crawled slowly up the hill to a fruitless eroded forest flank to the sound of flat cracks.
©2021 Neera Kashyap
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