We’d arrived home in the late afternoon. The monkeys were seated at the old stone table in the grass patch just below our block. The baby monkey spotted us as we emerged from the car park, jumped down from the table and started towards us. With both arms laden with bags, I grabbed my son’s hand and prompted him to walk faster. But the monkey ran after us. My son panicked. I turned around to try to shoo the monkey away and dropped a couple of my bags in the process. The baby monkey was undeterred and continued its approach – playfully, or so I thought. It came at us just as I reached down to pick up my bags. I swung the bags at the monkey while yelling at it. My son screamed. Now the adult monkey was leaping towards us as well…
It so happened that renovations were taking place in my apartment block and they had cordoned off the pathway to the void deck. There was no way we could make our way through or around the blockade before the monkeys would get to us. There was only one route out – to run up the stairs to the upper deck of the car park.
We somehow made it up in time. When we stopped and turned around, the adult monkey showed its teeth and growled at us. We both screamed. There was no way back down – the adult monkey was sitting right at the top of the stairs. My son started crying as we both backed further away.
My 2nd-floor neighbour was now shouting at us from her open window. “The bags! The monkeys are after your bags. They think it’s food.” It was – but not for them!!!
I led my son down an alternative staircase to the lowest deck of the car park and made a detour to the other end of our apartment block, where we waited and watched.
“What are we going to do, Mama?” My son wailed. “How are we going to get home?”
I knelt down and took his bags from him, including the bag he had helped carry which contained my day’s prized purchase – a box of gourmet cupcakes. They had been tossed around in the turmoil and cream was oozing out of the box onto the plastic bag. I opened the box and when my son saw all the cupcakes overturned and smashed into a huge mess, he started to sob uncontrollably.
Dropping all the bags on the floor, I cradled him in my arms while trying to console him.
Then I saw a man – “He must be one of our neighbours,” I thought. (Several days later, we would learn that he had been mobilized by our 2nd-floor neighbour who’d heard our screams.) From a distance, we could see him chasing the monkeys back into the forest with two long sticks. We waited a while more, then I said, “It’s okay now. We can walk back this way to the lift.”
“Are you sure, Mama?”
“Don’t worry, the man’s chased the monkeys away. Stay close to me; I’ll protect you.” (Right, I couldn’t just now.)
I grabbed the bags and we managed to reach the lift safely. When we finally got into the house, I put down the bags and commented, “We’re safe now.”
“Are you sure, Mama?” A second time.
“Yes. The monkeys can’t get in. See, all our windows are closed.”
As I made my way to the kitchen, my son came running up to me to alert me that the bathroom windows were still open. “It’s okay; they can’t come in through those. And the man has chased them away.”
“Are you sure, Mama?” A third time. Then he burst into tears again.
I picked him up and carried him to the sofa where we sat for a good 5 minutes with him on my lap and my arms tightly wrapped around him.
“How are we going to pick Daddy later?”
“Don’t worry, the monkeys are gone. We can check from our window. And just in case, we’ll take some sticks with us as well.”
I was so mad at the monkeys. Firstly for terrorizing my son – and me. Secondly for destroying my perfectly beautiful (and expensive) cupcakes. What made me even angrier was a sudden recollection of some people we had seen at Pierce Reservoir feeding the monkeys – right under the sign that said NOT to. Then, we had just watched in disbelief. But now I know what I’d do the next time I witness such foolishness.
“Thank God we’re safe.” It is at such times that I am grateful for neighbours that some might call a “busybody”.
“God protected us, right, Mama? He sent the man with the sticks.”
“Yes, He did.” Indeed.
Twenty minutes later, armed with a couple of bamboo poles each, we left the house to pick my husband. The monkeys were nowhere to be seen. And my son was already pretending to be a kungfu fighter with his poles. Thank God for the short memories children have, and for the short accounts they keep.
There are always many teachable moments to be drawn from an “adventure” like that, traumatic as it may have been. But the moment I cherish most that overrides the fear from the whole experience is my son’s assurance in the protection love brings.*
Note from Editor- *Love also protects in marriage! Renowned marriage experts, Dr. Gary & Barb Rosberg, will coach couples on Guarding Love – to put up proper guards in marriage that will provide protection from threats to the marriage, such as the allure of status and stuff, and help spouses feel safe and secure. Find out more at The Great Marriage Experience on Sat, Sep 3. (Click for more details)