Friday, May 08, 2015


from Small Stories from My Enormously Spiritual Life

It’s the time in late afternoon when the light softens at last and, in the courtyard of the ashram, pilgrims admire the peacocks and share biscuits with the monkeys.  I’m perched with my book on the steps just outside the office of the cashier, watching people come and go with donations and requests.  A small monkey -- a juvenile, male, rather scrawny -- peers into the office doorway and almost enters but then doesn’t.  The monkeys at the ashram are much too tame -- they steal food and scare children.  You’d be wise to give them a wide berth.  Indeed, even as I sit here the guard has come with his stick to ward off the monkeys that lurk by the temple door and tug on the hems of the ladies’ fluttering silks.  This particular monkey goes on lurking beside the door and peering in.  He makes an odd cooing noise.  The cashier, familiar with the antics of monkeys, turns from his computer now and then to keep an eye on him.  People with business come and go.  The monkey dodges their feet.  I expect someone to shoo him away, but nobody bothers, and he just goes on waiting, just outside the door, making the same small, sad, dejected noise, like he needs his mother to be paged on the intercom.  Finally a time comes when there are neither donors nor petitioners.  The cashier stretches, rests his eyes.  He turns to look at the monkey, shakes his head, and sighs.  He opens the second drawer of his desk and extracts a banana.  The monkey enters the cashier’s office, receives the banana and departs.

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