What was supposed to be an extra class of tuition on Sunday for the two teenagers, in the morning hours, turned out to be an unforgettable chapter for them ‘from the past’.
But what exactly was it, that not only engrossed them fully but also left them perplexed for the coming years, just as an entire nation had once been baffled?
A Popular Incident of the past with a new insight which even questions the point, that ‘Should we be connected with the past? And do we need history at all?’
Read On -
The Tale Of The Tail.
By – Rajeev. A. Masih.
Is it a mark of a Claw?
Or Is it a scratch of a Paw?
But go no further, my friend,
If you haven’t heard, ‘the tale of the tail.’
( A Pre-Pandemic Narration. )
-Two teenagers and an extra tuition class on Sunday.
Day : Sunday.
Time : 8:30 a.m.
Varinok Rowdy, had a clear look of irritation written on his face. The sixteen year old, curly haired lad was wearing an extremely tight jeans and a round neck bright yellow t-shirt and had a register in one hand and a pen in the other.
He looked at his be-speckled friend, Paltu Popal, a slightly overweight boy, with a stunted height, in a loose track suit to hide his bulging stomach. “Mitra, my friend, an extra tuition class and that too, on an early Sunday morning, is the worst thing to happen.”
Paltu Popal, nodded in agreement, even though he had his own reasons for doing so, as he remembered his mother was cooking his favourite dish, “Pav Bhaji” as a breakfast meal for everyone in the house, whereas he had to manage with just two plain bread loaves and a cup of milk, as a substitute food because he had to leave for an extra tuition class on Sunday.
Both the boys were standing in front of the gate of a small coaching centre, when their tutor called them inside and motioned them to sit on the chairs.
-Good morning Sir, can you please postpone the test?
Entering the single room of the small coaching centre, the boys looked at their tutor, Mr. K. Swaminappa, an extremely thin man, with heavy moustaches which had plenty of whites in it, just as the hairs on his head. The man in his late fifties, was their social studies tutor.
“Good morning sir”, chorused the boys together and saying so, they sat on the chairs.
“Good morning to the two of you. All ready for the test?” queried the tutor.
The boys gave a quick look to the other and then spoke together, “Sorry sir, but can you please postpone the test?”
“But boys, you know very well, that you were supposed to give this test of history.” Objected, Mr. K. Swaminappa.
Realizing that the situation had to be handled promptly, the boys quickly spoke the most commonly used word again, “Sorry sir.” And smiled foolishly.
The apology was duly accepted and Mr. K. Swaminappa, grinned too, which made the boys breathe a sigh of relief.
-Do we even need history, at all?
With things settled and going all good, it was Paltu Popal, who spoke first and broke the silence between the three, “Sir g, we all talk of living in the modern times, so why so much of fuss about history? Do we even need history, at all?”
Hearing the question, Varinok Rowdy, glared at his friend and thought of using some of the choicest local words on him; separately.
However, the tutor appeared undisturbed by the query and touching his moustache, replied, “Good question, Paltu Popal. The study of history is important for us even in the modern times, so that we may know of the past and we may remember it. But for a single minute, leave the history of the textbook, and tell me that, do you boys know some of the past incidents or any of the past events of our own country? Anything local, perhaps?”
Paltu Popal was super encouraged on his first question being approved and he spoke again. “Sir, I have heard about a famous married actress about to give...” but before he could complete his sentence, now it was the turn of the tutor, who gave an angry look to Paltu.
“Is this a past incident about which you are talking? And will it help us in our learning and understanding?” asked Mr. K. Swaminappa, with a tinge of contempt.
Paltu felt belittled while Varinok Rowdy grinned broadly, “Serves him right.” He thought.
-Dig the past of the year 2001, but be cautious!
“It is important for all of us, ‘to dig the past’ of the years which have passed.” And saying so, the tutor craned his neck towards both, Varinok and Paltu. “Have you heard of the incident which had bewildered our whole country and particularly, the city?”
On hearing the question, the boys floated a blank look on their faces, while, Mr. K. Swaminappa held a contented one on his thin face. So after all, he was right, the two teenagers had no living idea of what had transpired in the year 2001but then, how could they, when these two were not even born by that time period.
The two boys shook their head in negation and the tutor started with his narration.
“Most probably it was, the month of May 2001, that people in the city began to report their weird experiences of having seen something, more or less, a type of creature with a monkey like features or a creature similar to a monkey, appearing in the dark and then attacking them.”
The minute, Mr. K. Swaminappa, the history tutor paused; a suppressed scream escaped from Paltu Popal’s mouth. He turned and looked at Varinok Rowdy, who too appeared to be ruffled and was completely silent and listening intently.
-Have you been scratched by ‘The Kaala Bandar / The Monkey Man?’
The tutor reconvened with his narrative account, “It was difficult to reach to a fixed description of the figure of the monkey man, as told by the eye witnesses because there were lots of inconsistencies; according to some, the creature had a height of about four feet and was fully covered in thick black hair, while some said that it wore a metal helmet, had metal claws and burning red eyes.”
“Man, this is a scary stuff.” Commented Varinok.
“Is it?” asked the tutor. “Then just wait, till you hear what the other description goes on, because few had even said that, the figure had a snout, was upto eight feet tall, very robust and could leap from one building to another. There were some people who had reported being attacked and scratched by the Kaala Bandar / The Monkey Man.”
“The Monkey Man.” repeated Paltu in fear.
Suddenly there was a creaking sound as if, something was budging away and then, before the small group could understand anything, Paltu Popal, fell off the chair on the floor, with a loud thud.
The noise surprised the three and also brought a big bellowing laughter from Varinok and a smile from Mr. K. Swaminappa.
Paltu got up from the floor, all embarrassed and dusted off his clothes and then picked up the same chair to sit on it again.
-The impact of the Monkey Man.
Mr. K. Swaminappa, remarked, ”If this is the kind of impact on you, while hearing about the weird creature, just think about the strange fear which had captured the city and later on the nation in that year. Not only had the people simply stopped moving out in the night but even small, local patrolling groups had been formed to safe guard the safety of the citizens.”
After a complete silence of few minutes, Varinok Rowdy, took the first step, in firing a question, “Sir, what was the role of the police, while all of this was happening?”
The tutor of the subject history, exhaled strongly and said, “Exasperation! The police was exasperated and had issued an artist’s impression of the creature, so that it could be caught but still they were not able to trace the Monkey Man.”
“And not only that..." continued their mentor, "You boys would not believe it, if I told you, but such was a lasting effect of the Monkey Man that later in the year 2009, a hindi movie, Delhi-6 , was also released which was based on the past incidents of the Monkey Man."
-It is very difficult to categorize it.
“And that’s it!” said Mr. K. Swaminappa, with a tone of finality.
“That’s what, sir g?” asked the boys in unison.
“What happened to the Monkey Man?, Who was he?, Was he caught?” asked Varinok powerfully.
The social science tutor was slightly upset by the tone of his student but he could understand the reason behind it and so he spoke with a percentage of calmness, “Nothing happened to the entire matter. It simply died. The Monkey Man was never caught.”
“What? Do you mean to say that it was a scam?” asked Paltu, curiously.
“Maybe, it was. Maybe, it wasn’t. One can even call it as a type of Mass Hysteria – a condition which affects a group of people, producing anxiety or an irrational behaviour.”
“Mass Hysteria; That’s quite heavy for our young minds”, said Varinok.
“Yes, it is.” Replied their history faculty. “Actually, it is very difficult to categorize it, but, yes, It was really an indefinable fear, and that too in a period, when the different apps. Of the social media had not invaded so much.”
“Cool !” said Paltu, who could now hear his stomach rumbling inside and yearning for the ‘Pav Bhaji’ which his mother must have prepared by this time.
“So you can see boys, that, this was an incident from the past which had capsized not only a city but also a nation, to a certain extent. Anyway, now you go back to your homes and remember the importance of history, so that you prepare the topics properly.” Commanded the tutor, amiably.
“Without a doubt, we will”, said Varinok Rowdy,
“And specially, we are bound to remember ‘the tale of the tail’ for many years.” Added Paltu Popal, smilingly.