Monkey and Tiger
(for Marianna Selikhova)
 

Johan de Wit


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This was tiger country, monkey territory. Lush, wild and only the lonely. As it was early spring the birds were still somewhat subdued, the earlier cold spells had left a mark on their presence and exuberance. Both Tiger and Monkey had been — each in their own way — preparing themselves for their anticipated return. Year after year spring had come, so had the birds. [What was to come arrived so fast it didn’t have time to rearrange these presuppositions.] It has always been inappropriate to contemplate the renewal of life without the presence of flower beds and birdsong; so the heavens themselves were approached to give the skin of life a massage.

Monkey. Monkey was the one who had left the troop. There was no future there. Only monkeys to play with and to choose from. For Monkey that awareness had caused some  teeth-chattering laughter. The whole troop had taken it badly, they had surrounded and challenged him, there was only one way to go: up in the tree given to him at birth. He knew, he had been sleeping in his tree of life ever since. It had given him food, shelter and the freedom of tree life. And, on good days the forest, from floor to canopy, it was all his. Yes, and yet.

Tiger. Tiger had been a tiger all her life, as a cub the entire class of pioneers had unanimously chosen her as the one that should be called: “Tiger the only Tiger who was promised to be a Tiger”. She could catch her tail faster than any other cub; her stripes were more varied than those of any other tiger; her movements were so delightful to watch and so innately gracious that already after a few days playing just a few feet away from her mother she had been chosen as a future queen of the forest. Her paws were chocolate soft and lily white, her little claws were already as sharp as lightning. No doubt she was the only Tiger that was going to move with absolute determination and infallible certainty along the path towards her promised life.

And so it happened that time instead of running after ran ahead of itself. Clearly there was something in the air that a sleeve couldn’t wipe clean. On a bright and sunny afternoon there was this weather vane directing the traffic. Mock attacks, fancy dress parties and exchanges of good will, they all passed by. It was to be as much a sight as an enjoyment on all fours. All of a sudden, ears stretched, nostrils vibrating, muscles at the ready, there was this roaring tremor, it was like the earth opening up, ready to receive its offspring. Monkey leapt on the back of Tiger. Whirling and twirling, sunning and bathing, rolling and frolicking. Hair and skin were from now on bed and kin; air and breath became the pathway to their intertwined future. No would never be any more a sound cleaving the sky. What’s more, there was this smell penetrating their skin, this foreboding, this magnetism and mutuality:  two bodies one purpose; four legs one direction. It all happened with such an incredible force and speed that it felt as if time was shrinking and shifting shape. Monkey and Tiger were given the times of their lives back. The sun had made their dreams come true. The forest had to be explored and prepared for a new experience: how to dare together, how to share the result of this earthquake they had set in motion? How to recognise the new opportunities but also the new dangers? What is to come will never be the same as what has been. Face to face, Monkey and Tiger were ready and all over the place; they were grooming each other for both the short and the long haul. Their day had come.

 Gradually their eyes were adapting to this new life form. Being together provided even the sun with a new task: just to be there was enough. Whether the night took the sky away or the rain the heat Monkey and Tiger kept the order of the universe going. It was the world of dreams that  was giving them food, shelter and life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Kater Murr's Press, Piraeus Series, 2004. 
 Text copyright © Johan de Wit, 2004.
Cover image by Ken White; copyright © Ken White, 2004.