“The only person with answers around here is the monkey”, explained Mr Wable, as they stood in the middle of his room. They stayed close to the door.
The monkey was sitting on top of a bookshelf, scratching himself. Johor had heard about the monkey, although this was the first time he was seeing him. He was the son of a cabinet minister. No one had been more surprised than the minister himself when his wife had extruded a simian.
Pre-natal investigations had focused more on gender than species, and once reassured that he had a son, the minister had allowed nature to take its own course. The result was the monkey. His in-laws were mortified. They were royalty from Gwalior, and they had never had a monkey in the family before. His wife had left, never to return, leaving the product of their union behind. She never had sex with anyone ever again.
The minister had done his duty, though, taking him by the paw and raising him as his own. Eventually he had found him a job in his ministry, at the New Job Commission, where he played a vital role in keeping the wheels of government from turning. He was the PA to the Chairman. Anyone meeting the boss had to go through him. In this way, he was learning the art of governance, preparing for the day when he would take over from his dad, initially as a Minister of State. Subsequently, if the gods willed it, he would attain cabinet rank.
The monkey could speak when he felt like it, but his conversation was limited. He never answered any questions unless given a banana. He had a stupendous appetite for bananas. He could never get enough of them. He only ate a few. The rest he threw in the air, and strewed around on the floor. Sometimes he rolled about in them. No one could understand it. How many bananas did one monkey need? And why did he want everyone’s bananas? Was no one else supposed to have any?
Sympathetic to his needs, his father had purchased large chunks of Singapore, where bananas were abundant. The purchase was financed by the wages of millions of phantom farm workers, all of whom lived below the poverty line. A complex series of file movements across a variety of departments ensured that their wages were all reaching the minister.
Johor eyed the monkey nervously, clutching his banana. Mr Wable had been kind enough to provide him one, sparing him a trip outside in the hot sun. A banana-seller squatted just in front of the building all day, catering to this market. Business was brisk. They approached his desk, carefully avoiding any sudden movements.
Will the monkey help Johor? Or will he crush his dreams? Find out in the next thrilling episode of No Son of Mine!
Shovon Chowdhury is a novelist based in Delhi. His latest novel, Murder With Bengali Characteristics, is set in a Bengal occupied by China.