Have you ever had a baby monkey as a pet?
Toto is a baby monkey. Let's find out whether
he is mischievous or docile.
GRANDFATHER bought Toto from a tonga-driver for the sum of five
rupees. The tonga-driver used to keep the little red monkey tied
to a feeding-trough, and the monkey looked so out of place there
that Grandfather decided he would add the little fellow to his
Toto was a pretty monkey. His bright eyes sparkled with
mischief beneath deep-set eyebrows, and his teeth, which were a
pearly white, were very often displayed in a smile that frightened
the life out of elderly Anglo-lndian ladies. But his hands looked
dried-up as though they had been pickled in the sun for many
years. Yet his fingers were quick and wicked; and his tail, while
adding to his good looks (Grandfather believed a tail would add
to anyone's good looks, also served as a third hand. He could
use it to hang from a branch; and it was capable of scooping up
any delicacy that might be out of reach of his hands.
Grandmother always fussed when Grandfather brought home
some new bird or animal. So it was decided that Toto's presence
should be kept a secret from her until she was in a particularly
good mood. Grandfather and I put him away in a little closet opening
into my bedroom wall, where he was tied securely -- or so we
thought -- to a peg fastened into the wall.
A few hours later, when Grandfather and I came back to
release Toto, we found that the walls, which had been covered
with some ornamental paper chosen by Grandfather, now stood
out as naked brick and plaster. The peg in the wall had been
wrenched from its socket, and my school blazer, which had been
hanging there, was in shreds. I wondered what Grandmother
would say. But Grandfather didn't worry; he seemed pleased
with Toto's performance.
"He's clever," said Grandfather. "Given time, I'm sure he could
have tied the torn pieces of your blazer into a rope, and made his
escape from the window!"
His presence in the house still a secret, Toto was now
transferred to a big cage in the servants' quarters where a number
of Grandfather's pets lived very sociably together -- a tortoise, a
pair of rabbits, a tame squirrel and, for a while, my pet goat. But
the monkey wouldn't allow any of his companions to sleep at
night; so Grandfather, who had to leave Dehra Dun next day to
collect his pension in Saharanpur, decided to take him along.
Unfortunately I could not accompany Grandfather on that trip,
but he told me about it afterwards. A big black canvas kit-bag
was provided for Toto. This, with some straw at the bottom, became
his new abode. When the bag was closed, there was no escape.
Toto could not get his hands through the opening, and the canvas
was too strong for him to bite his way through. His efforts to get
out only had the effect of making the bag roll about on the floor
or occasionally jump into the air -- an exhibition that attracted a
curious crowd of onlookers on the Dehra Dun railway platform.
Toto remained in the bag as far as Saharanpur, but while
Grandfather was producing his ticket at the railway turnstile,
Toto suddenly poked his head out of the bag and gave the ticketcollector
a wide grin.
The poor man was taken aback; but, with great presence of
mind and much to Grandfather's annoyance, he said, "Sir, you
have a dog with you. You'll have to pay for it accordingly."
In vain did Grandfather take Toto out of the bag; in vain did
he try to prove that a monkey did not qualify as a dog, or even
as a quadruped. Toto was classified a dog by the ticket-collector;
and three rupees was the sum handed over as his fare.
Then Grandfather, just to get his own back, took from his
pocket our pet tortoise, and said, "What must I pay for this, since
you charge for all animals?
The ticket-collector looked closely at the tortoise, prodded it
with his forefinger, gave Grandfather a pleased and triumphant
look, and said, "No charge. It is not a dog.
When Toto was finally accepted by Grandmother he was given
a comfortable home in the stable, where he had for a companion
the family donkey, Nana. On Toto's first night in the stable,
Grandfather paid him a visit to see if he was comfortable. To his
surprise he found Nana, without apparent cause, pulling at her
halter and trying to keep her head as far as possible from a
bundle of hay.
Grandfather gave Nana a slap across her haunches, and she
jerked back, dragging Toto with her. He had fastened on to her
long ears with his sharp little teeth.
Toto and Nana never became friends.
A great treat for Toto during cold winter evenings was the
large bowl of warm water given him by Grandmother for his bath.
He would cunningly test the temperature with his hand, then
gradually step into the bath, first one foot, then the other (as he
had seen me doing), until he was into the water up to his neck.
Once comfortable, he would take the soap in his hands or feet,
and rub himself all over. When the water became cold, he would
get out and run as quickly as he could to the kitchen-fire in order
to dry himself. If anyone laughed at him during this performance,
Toto's feelings would be hurt and he would refuse to go on with
his bath. One day Toto nearly succeeded in boiling himself alive.
A large kitchen kettle had been left on the fire to boil for tea
and Toto, finding himself with nothing better to do, decided to
remove the lid. Finding the water just warm enough for a bath,
he got in, with his head sticking out from the open kettle. This
was just fine for a while, until the water began to boil. Toto then
raised himself a little; but, finding it cold outside, sat down again.
He continued hopping up and down for some time, until
Grandmother arrived and hauled him, half-boiled, out of the kettle.
If there is a part of the brain especially devoted to mischief, that
part was largely developed in Toto. He was always tearing things to
pieces. Whenever one of my aunts came near him, he made every
effort to get hold of her dress and tear a hole in it.
One day, at lunch-time, a large dish of pullao stood in the
centre of the dining-table. We entered the room to find Toto stuffing
himself with rice. My grandmother screamed -- and Toto threw a
plate at her. One of my aunts rushed forward -- and received a glass
of water in the face. When Grandfather arrived, Toto picked up the
dish of pullao and made his exit through a window. We found
him in the branches of the jackfruit tree, the dish still in his
arms. He remained there all afternoon, eating slowly through the
rice, determined on finishing every grain. And then, in order to
spite Grandmother, who had screamed at him, he threw the dish
down from the tree, and chattered with delight when it broke into
a hundred pieces.
Obviously Toto was not the sort of pet we could keep for long.
Even Grandfather realised that. We were not well-to-do, and could
not afford the frequent loss of dishes, clothes, curtains and
wallpaper. So Grandfather found the tonga-driver, and sold Toto
back to him -- for only three rupees..
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