Annual of Urdu Studies, v. 6, 1987 p. 83.


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Intizar Husain

THE MONKEYS

Historiography writes the history of society, not of man That is why the historical events my novels talk about are often ignored by historiography Example In the years that followed the 1968 Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia, the reign of terror against the public was preceded by officially organized massacres of dogs An episode totally forgotten and without importance for a historian for a political scientist, but of the utmost anthropological significance' óMilan Kundera'

Strange were the ways of the monkeys. When they came, they came in droves, and when they left, they really leftónot to mention the roofs, there were none to be seen in even the tamarind tree next to the local Karbala. The roofs would become vacant, the parapets deserted. Only the run down cornices of the tall mansions served to remind that these were once under the monkeys' control.

What happened that evening^ Strolling along a lane, he felt as though right overhead something had sprang from one parapet to the adjoining one He looked up and what did he see but a train of monkeys going from parapet to parapet. "Oh no' Monkeys'" escaped from his lips and his heart almost stopped from fear.

The next morning he awoke to an uproar inside the house and outside as well. Everything in the courtyard had either been smashed or had disappeared. One monkey had taken off with his mother's dupatta and was sitting on the parapet of the highest rooftop room ripping it to shreds with its teeth.

God knows from what strange parts, from what town or forest the monkeys had come One troop came, then another troop, then another. From one parapet to the next, from the next to the one after that Right before everyone's eyes they would leap down into a courtyard, grab whatever was in sight and scamper off. Finally Nanwa, who ran a small oil-pressing operation, decided that enough was enough. He went around asking for donations, then bought some chana grain and a big chunk of raw sugar.

He went to the pond by the small market which remained dry all year except during the rainy season. There he scattered the chana and positioned the chunk of raw sugar in the middle, throwing around a bunch of small clubs for good measure

1 From Intizar Husain's novel Sastf (Lahore Naqsh-e Awwal Kitab Ghar, 1979), pp 21-24 For Milan Kundera s quote, which has been added by Muhammad Umar Memon, see, "Conversation with Milan Kundera on the Art of the Novel,' in Salmagundi, 73 (Winter 1987), p 130

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