A CLOSE LOOK
Primates and other species also need space for survival
Imagine you are alone at home. The door is locked and you are writing a piece for the next day's issue of your newspaper. Midway, you go to the dining room for a glass of water. Just then you come face to face with a guest on the dining table heartily eating from the rice bowl that was meant to be there for your lunch. First, it was a feeling of disbelief. Or something surreal!
Yes, an unwelcome guest it was but not a human being nor one of the feline species which can at times stealthily slip even into today's modern flats. Before you try to figure out how the guest has entered the room, you utter a mild threat almost instinctively. But the guest, a primate which had the temerity to encroach your private space does not like to be cowed down. Without giving the slightest hint, he aims his jump straightway at your face.
The aggression is uncalled for and you are least prepared for the attack of a monkey that has somehow slipped into the house. Instead of fleeing as soon as the verbal threat is issued, it decides to bite and scratch the occupant of the house. Before I narrate what happened next, can I ask my readers to ask themselves if they could save their persons from the attack or would have ended up in a hospital.
Mind it, the animal most expert in swinging like a spring jumps from the dining table barely from a distance of one and a half metres. Think again, can you save yourselves? It depends on what kind of reflex you can master at that critical moment---in fact, in a split second. Well, you have got it right the incident took place right in my dining room. Fortunately for me, my reflex saved me. How I don't know, I could lower my full body before the monkey could land his mouth and sharp nails on my face or wherever he could. He missed me completely.
The monkey landed another half a metre away right behind me where there is an open shelf with the micro oven perching on the top one. But the monkey fell on the mid-shelf which gave in by the impact and a number of large milk containers there started screaming in a strange cacophony. Amid the chaos, the primate of robust health fled. Maybe, he too had a fright of his life. Left unhurt with only the little finger of my right hand bearing the brunt of my body's unprepared descent, I had to nurse its swelling.
From the brief glance I had of its appearance, I understand the monkey does not face food shortage. What is however puzzling is that we have never faced anything closer to monkey terror in our more than 30 years' stay in this area of the capital. In fact, many are unaware here that there is/are a monkey/monkeys, let alone housebreaking or theft of food by one. Also, physical threat was nowhere in my gesture. I wonder, why did it launch the sudden attack?
Ever since I have come across the sad news about hanumans (grey langur with black mouth) of Jashore's Keshabpur and their demonstration on the police campus, I feel empathy for the primates. In some areas of the capital also they are pitted against all odds. But the incident that has won over me is the beating of a baby primate by some people, following which how a group of 25 or so hanumans staged a demonstration at Keshabpur police station.
First the primates arrived there together with the mother holding the injured baby and took position in front of the main entrance. Then they entered the office of the officer-in-charge. The officer sympathised with them and offered them some dried foods, assuring them of looking into the matter. After an hour of stay there, the group of hanumans left the police station. The OC also disclosed then that during his tenure at that police station, it was the second time they arrived with a complaint. The first time they came when they faced severe food crisis three months before this incident.
No, this was not a made-up story because the accompanying picture speaks of the genuineness of the hanumans' representation. Indeed, hanumans and monkeys, with a close lineage of hominini ---of which homo sapiens are the only survivor --- may have some behavioural traits common with the humans. Otherwise, how should they feel they can complain to the officer in charge against maltreatment and a lack of food! In fact, human encroachment on the habitats of all other species has been so pervasive and mindless that they are facing extinction. There is nothing to be surprised if some members of a few species suddenly become aggressive and attack humans.