Monkeys in the Garden
Gardening has always fascinated me. Till now I have believed in its therapeutic nature, how it calms our senses as well as educates us, teaching so many things, from sowing to reaping our crops and invaluable knowledge about the flora and how the climate is related to them.
But, Delhi provides me with little scope in terms of full-fledged gardening, where less of space limits us to either terrace gardening in pint size houses or putting a few potted plants in our balconies.
As a child, living in the hills, I have always seen houses accompanied with lawns and gardens and same goes for my parents’ home. Here in Himachal , whether you are rich or poor, everyone has roof over their head along with kitchen gardens, though the size may vary. Despite of urbanization, the gardens still exist. But yes, these high-rise buildings have resulted in destruction of Natural Habitats of animals and birds . The result of all this is’ increase in monkey-menace, the simian population is destroying the crops and vegetables, because of all this the farmers are facing huge losses. It has become a herculean task to control these monkeys and despite of on-going sterilization programmes nothing much has been done or changed.
Now, the huge back yard garden of my dad faces the biggest threat from the troops of the monkeys on the prowl looking for goodies. Though my dad has attained some wisdom in dealing with them by observing them for quite some time now. The doors of the house are never left open and always latched, the dustbins are never left out, the compost pit is always covered, and the old habit of feeding the monkeys especially during Tuesdays by my mother has been quit long time back, even if a baby monkey steals her heart with its pranks.
Despite of all this, the real test began for them when there were mangoes, tomatoes and guavas in their kitchen garden which were about to ripen!! Seeing the monkey family so mercilessly plucking the mangoes, Brinjals and even spring onions, and so carelessly tasting and throwing them away, really saddened them. Their labour and hard work was just destroyed in few seconds, they were almost heart-broken.
Our neighbours made a smart move. In order to tackle this situation peacefully, they made a green house but my dad was not in favour of this as it would restrict the movement of birds. Many others like us who did not support the Green house idea , took to bursting of crackers. Moment the monkeys were in the vicinity , a fire crackers went off and hearing the big boom, the monkeys scampered away. Soon this idea became quite hot and happening and we also tried it, but every time bursting crackers was spoiling the peaceful environs , along with scaring the poor pet and street dogs and whole day keeping a watch on these simians was not possible and often they would stealthily come and perform their chores, the half eaten vegetables strewn around were the only proof of their surprise and shocking visit for us.
The present cause of concern for my father is his Orange tree, he has so religiously taken care of this tree, from the time it was just a mere sapling, that even my six year daughter has made it a duty to water it daily and refers to it as ‘Nanu ka Orange Tree’. As the small oranges have started appearing, my father is so perturbed about its future, every day he counts the number of oranges along with my daughter, the addition to the orange family brings smiles on their faces but some where a fear is lurking in his mind about their survival rate, as deep down he knows that once the monkeys eye this tree, only a couple of the oranges will survive, that too out of sheer luck.
The idea of covering the oranges with the muslin cloth was suggested by one of our neighbours but it was completely rejected by my father as it is a tested and a failed formula, which was tried on the mangoes last year, it restricted the growth of the fruit and later on the monkeys could spot the mangoes hidden behind the mask , which they managed to tear apart .
So the last resort left with us was the toy guns, and now we are dealing with the monkeys in our kitchen garden with these guns, as we see the monkeys, my dad just raises his gun in air, so that it is visible to the monkeys as they are intelligent beings and fear for their lives and this technique has been a successful so fa , as well as harmless to all concerned. Monkeys just run away seeing the guns, but God knows till when.
By Anjali Sharma, an HW Reader