Last time I spoke to you about my simian visitors, I was concerned they’d blackballed my place for stealing Mrs. Hanuman’s soul.
We’ve been having afternoon storms, and I think my strategic location on one of their escape routes has made it imperative for them to overlook my misdemeanour. You see, up here on my airy platform, I am very aware of the telltale signs of an approaching storm – the change in the quality of the light, and a freshening of the breeze, the alarm calls of the fat little brown sparrows – but it is the Hanuman Troupe which sounds the definitive alarm. All of a sudden, there will be one, then a couple, then, it seems, the entire troupe will stream up from the marshland to the north, bounding and leaping from tree to tree, across my neighbour’s fence, crashing through the leaves of the mango outside my bedroom. Sounding like a mini-thunderstorm themselves, they tear across the roof, heading south, away from the storm, the rain and the lightening – frightening stuff for outdoor dwellers.
By the end of the week, signs were that we were once again part of their Long Paddock. Mr. Hanuman senior has been loudly expressing ownership of the cinnamon tree, and various members of his family are loitering in the vacant land beside my house, waiting for a signal that they too, can gather those tiny mustardy coloured berries that grow from little candelabra on its upper branches. Every once in a while, the youngsters will challenge Papa, to which the old guy replies with mighty whoops, charging after the impudent scamps, who prance along the crest of the roof, leap to the coconut tree near the fence, up into the tall branches of the trees next door, and round, and round they go, till the old guy tires of the chase, and settles once again to forage.
Today, after one particularly boisterous game of rounders, I looked out the kitchen door to see three teenagers, and a preschooler, sitting on the fence near the coconut tree. Just sitting, their long tails hanging down behind them. Then, becoming aware of my silent eyes, one by one they rose, and stalked to the end, disappearing behind my neighbour’s garage. A while later I was sure someone was in the mango tree, but when I rose to check, whoosh! Onto the roof and far away. Or so I thought.
Creeping, with loaded camera, to the small window in my bathroom, I saw a young aunt, I think, or a cousin, wrestling with a preteen on the garage roof. Someone was lurking under the custard apple tree, and on the other side, three preschoolers were making their way toward them, carefully climbing down from the mango, and along the fence toward the back.
I missed every shot of the wrestling match, and the preteen, but did, eventually catch the aunt, sitting, deciding what to do next. A long grey tail gave away the hiding place of whoever was under the custard apple, but discovering who, it appeared, would be a waiting game. So I turned my camera toward the approaching preschoolers, who immediately scampered out of sight, except for one young chap, crouching as still as a mouse, behind an overhanging beam. By this stage I’d moved from the seclusion of the bathroom and was standing on the balcony, trying to look like a doorpost. While I was moving, she must have turned to watch me, for there she was, even her eyes like stone, amidst the branches of the custard apple. And then, of course, she and the bub, the aunt and the preteens dematerialised – over at the edge of the garage, and into the dense branches beyond.
Sad to report, Custard Apple Season has come and gone as far as we humans are concerned!