It's now the turn of the Bonnet monkey to defend himself. And he goes beyond himself by “composing” a poem!


I wandered lonely as a cloud,

That glides on high o'er valleys and hills,

When all at once I saw a crowd,

A host of mauve kurinjis.

Beside the shrub, beneath the trees, Fluttering and dancing in the breeze,

Continuous as the stars that shine

And twinkle in the night still.

They stretch'd in never-ending line,

Along the margin of a Nilgiri Hill,

Ten thousand saw I at a glance,

Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

A poet could not but be gay,

In such a jocund company,

I gazed - and gazed - but little thought,

What wealth the show to me had brought.

Then my heart with pleasure fills, And dances with the dainty neels.

Please do not say I stole this poem! It is my own, I swear that is true!

I write this in my own defence. I read with interest every letter sent to Aristotle, trashy or otherwise. It pains me when I am maligned, my reputation rubbed into mud. The lion-tailed fellow has made me look bad in the eyes of the world.

I am Macaca radiata or bonnet macaque. And yes, we bonnet monkeys do live near human populations in the hills of South India. You may see us in large troops on fig or tamarind trees in villages and by the side of roads. We are cute and social. As one of this species, I am small, grey-brown in colour, with a long tail and a whorl of hair that radiates from the top of my head. It gives an appearance of a bonnet and that gives me my common name. While I belong to the pale-bellied sub-species, my cousins of the other are dark-bellied.

I admit to being an omnivore with special liking for grasshoppers, fruits, grain, seeds and flowers; but I definitely deny stealing them. Honestly, I do not enter fields without permission. I do not help myself to temple prasad. I take only what shopkeepers give me. I am not a thief!

Rare phenomenon

Having made my point, I move on to the most spectacular event that takes place here once every 12 years. It is the gregarious flowering of small, blue-violet neelakurinji . The hills are covered in a blanket of blue; the air is fragrant and filled with sounds of buzzing of busy bees collecting nectar of these countless blooms. They bloomed in 2006. It will happen next in 2018.

The beauty of this event inspired me to write this poem; words just poured out of my joyous heart. I share with you in all humility.

Reply from Aristotle

Dear Macaca radiata,

Allow me to correct you — Wordsworth and not words that come pouring out of your plagiaristic mind. I hope his spirit haunts you for ruining his lovely poem!

This is literary piracy! Here is a piracy of another kind. Did you know that there were pirates off the Malabar Coast in the early 1700's?

I mean real pirates! Kanahoji Angria was the Admiral of the Maratha navy. But he and his men attacked and looted unescorted merchant ships of the English, Portuguese and French. They brought back the silk, spices, rubber and cotton that these Europeans were taking away from the country.

What would you call it — piracy or patriotism?