Articles

The Great Escape

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15th Nov 2010. It was a cold wintry morning. We were excited when we had planned a trip from our office to Ooty. Located in the Nilgiri Mountains, Ooty is one of the best hill stations in South India. The hotel was situated on a small hill, overlooking a cliff. The place looked beautiful, with a garden of sweet-smelling flowers.  I stretched out on the bed, when there was a knock on the door. I got up and opened the door. My colleague Priya was standing there.

“Bina would you like to come for a stroll with us?” asked Priya.

“Sorry Priya, please go ahead. I’m in a mood to relax and curl up in bed with a book, and a hot cup of coffee.”

 “Are you sure, Bina?”

“Yes my dear, I will come in the evening with all of you. Now I’m going to relax here.”

“We’ll miss you Bina, said Priya giving a warm hug.”

I closed the door and sat down on the sofa.

I was in my nightie, in a tranquil mood to relax. Suddenly feeling a bit cold and uneasy I switched off the Air Conditioner. When I looked out of the glass window, I could see the hill in front, lined with eucalyptus trees. The branches swayed in the breeze. I got up, and opened the window to let the sunlight in. The whiff of fresh air was rejuvenating. I thought I would watch Deepak Chopra’s video on spirituality.

I sat back on the sofa which was close to the window, and was fully engrossed in the video when I thought I heard a chatter. I looked up, and what I saw gave me goose bumps. Right in front of me, at a distance of one foot, sat a huge monkey on the centre table. He was watching me. I’m not sure whether it was me or the mobile which attracted it’s attention. It had obviously walked in through the wide open window. A chill went up my spine.

I looked at the front door. The door was tightly shut.  I knew from the second floor I wouldn’t jump out of the window. Running to the exit was not an option, the monkey would attack me even before I would reach there. The monkey had all the chances in front of him and I had none. I felt trapped. If I made one wrong move, I would end up in a hospital. His eyes bored into mine, and looked directly into my eyes. I clutched the mobile tightly hoping it wouldn’t fall down. That was the only security I had at that moment. I had read somewhere if we look straight into the eyes of the animal it will not harm us. So I stared back at the monkey, and turning my back to the front door, slowly got up from the sofa. It was so silent a move that if a pin dropped one would hear. I tread on the floor softly, and facing the monkey inched my was backward towards the exit. The monkey’s eyes did not even blink but were watching me suspiciously.

I took one step at a time, not taking my eyes off it even for a fraction of a second. I had to watch the monkey’s next move, and I did not dare to blink. The landline was very close to where the monkey was sitting so I could not reach it. I knew it would be foolish to grab the phone, then the monkey would pounce on me. With a hundred thoughts running in my mind for the great escape, I inched my way backwards step by step. I reached close to the front door, but my eyes were keenly watching the monkey. It seemed as if it was fascinated, its eyes did not shift from my sight.

And then I see this terrible sight–my heart beats almost stopped when I see another huge monkey entering inside through the window. My heart was in my mouth, so I did not scream. Fortunately, I was at the door, and I opened it quietly, not taking my eyes off  the monkey, and instantly jumped outside the room. But I did not shut the door tight.

I was in my nightie, it was impossible for me to go to the lobby and I was anxious whether the monkey would carry away my handbag. Holding the door slightly open I watched the monkeys through the tiny opening.I saw the first monkey get down from the table. And all of a sudden both the monkeys together ravaged the room. They jumped on the bed, climbed on the table, pushed the coffee percolator down and emptied the trash from the wastepaper basket. The only object that was safe, was my handbag placed on the side table. Were they waiting for me to move out of the room to prance around? I wondered.

I was so engrossed that I did not hear my colleague call out, “Bina, are you eavesdropping? What are you doing there holding on to the door? Whose room is that?”I turned around and saw my colleague Sanjay watching me suspiciously. I felt embarrassed and awkward that he had seen me. But I needed help.

“Sanjay, thank God, you’re here. It’s my room. There are monkeys in the room.” I blurted out.

“Monkeys? From where did they come?” asked Sanjay with curiosity.

“They walked in through the window, Sanjay.”

Sanjay laughed when he took out his shirt and gave it to me.

“Come on! You can cover yourself. I didn’t know you had stayed back. I was sleeping when everyone went for a stroll,” said Sanjay.

“Why don’t you shut the door? Imagine what would happen if they push through the door and chase you. You would be running in the lobby in your nightie.”

I laughed aloud along with him.

“Let me go down and inform the manager,” said Sanjay. He went down and reported at the front desk while I stood there peeping into the room. The fear had taken a retreat, and now I was fascinated.

When the manager and the boys came up and opened the door, it was mayhem inside. Probably because Sanjay was there to take control of the situation I was calm. But I was worried about my handbag and the credit cards that I would lose. After the fun and frolic both the monkeys walked out silently through the window, just the way they came in.

The hotel staff was shocked to see the room. The manager smiled at me when he asked: “Why did you open the window, Ma’am?”

“I thought windows are to let the sunlight in and get a breath of fresh air. How did I know you have your own set of visitors out here who come in through the windows?” I retorted.

He looked at me apologetically. “Why don’t you put up a board there “Monkeys outside, don’t open the window?” I asked the manager. He looked at me for a minute and then apologised “Ma’am we are sorry, and we will refund the room charges.” He refunded my two days stay in the hotel.

After two hours when my colleagues came in and heard the story, they were shocked to hear about my encounter with the monkeys. But it also seemed funny, and all of us had a hearty laugh.

“Bina, I’m sure you were not able to relax. You should have come with us,’ said Priya.”

“This experience has taught me a lesson. Next time I will go with you,” I said, laughing.

However, I’m glad that I had the presence of mind to deal with the situation. But even now a chill runs down my spine whenever I think of that enormous monkey who sat on the table and watched me intently.”

After that incident any time we planned a trip, my colleagues would tease me, “Bina when you reach your hotel, don’t forget to open your window. Remember you may get a free stay in the hotel.

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