house of happy

Life adventures in prose and verse. Explorations of places, people and words. Stories and fun.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Monkey March

Of course we were late (the real question is, when aren't we?). We slept and chatted and slept some more. We looked at the time, looked at each other, screamed, sprang and dived into the day. Sun high and hot, buzzards circling, blueberries drowning in (other people's) pancake mix, coffees ordered for the Sunday brunch crowd at Kuch Khaas.

We threw on some clothes, skidded out of the house, the little car whined and dodged cricket balls along Ataturk Avenue. We arrived - 'You got water? NO? You got some change? Quick, get some water!' - but they'd already left the car park, to walk up Trail Five. We jogged after, battling sleep-webs and Sunday sloth.

Fifteen minutes later, my lungs became gills and burned, M. kept up the pace - left, right, left, right - and all the while it felt like someone was running alongside shoveling cement inside my trainers. Is this the end? I gasped. I fell behind. The sun became a comet and exploded silently on alternate steps. Constellations came into being. Worlds died.

A while later, a clearing and sergeant major M. waiting, with friends. Dry river bed, wide bald rocks, warm in the sun, heavenly. A short nap followed by leisurely walk back? I collapsed on a rock. Everyone got up to go.

Later, still climbing. Spring turned to summer. The hair on my neck turned into a coil of rope, then a fistful of water snakes. Scarf turned to turban. Heart turned to hammer. A few more steps, and bliss: the path turned to plateau, slope to peak.

And the girl Lubna brought us oranges. We sat on the low wall, in a small cloud of orange scent and sunshine. Ecstasy beyond words.

On the way back, we stumbled into a monkey ambush. One screaming male, brown fur, red rump, chased by an angry posse. Crossed the path, stopped, a sly look - did he weigh up hiding at the hems of our kameez? - another screech.

We stopped. Smiled, 'look how sweet', careful not to show teeth. More branches breaking, more simian whoops. Ehmm, how sweet exactly? Smiles simmered down. Another monkey leapt onto the path, crossed to the left, after the first. We took some steps back, grim now, surrounded by monkeys. Everyone waited for the outcome of the battle. Stories flashed by, of women whose faces had been torn off by baboons, of small furry animals ripped apart, consumed. Can they really tear off your face? Someone picked up a stone.

Before any answer, before even the stone, they were gone.


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