The Vervet Underground

I have seen more monkeys in the last three weeks than I have people. You’re probably thinking how lucky I am to be holidaying in some or other pristine wilderness far from the madding crowd. Well, I’m not. Holidaying, I mean. Whether or not I am lucky is a matter of perspective.

The truth is that I am only twenty minutes north of Umhlanga. I was forced to relocate for reasons which concern no-one but me and my lawyer, who is currently operating from the long grass under the nom de guerre of Grimly Feendish.

I haven’t been out much since I moved into a complex. Too many neighbours. I can feel their eyes on my front door. “What’s he building in there?” they whisper to each other. “He has no friends but he gets a lot of mail.”

Complexes have always filled me with dread. The word alone is fraught with hidden horrors.

Psychological complexes were believed by Carl Jung to influence the individual’s attitude and behaviour. It’s the same with housing complexes. There’s always someone on his balcony late on a Friday night with one hand down his trousers and the other clutching a bottle of beer, shouting: “Die young and I shall accept your death – but not if you have lived without glory, without being useful to your country, without leaving a trace of your existence – for that is not to have lived at all!” Then they throw up, go inside and shoot their children. Napoleon would never have done that.

Before people caught on to the fact that it was easier and more lucrative to steal than to get a job, gated communities were rare. One of the earliest examples of a complex was when the boer trekkers made a laager of their wagons and lived within the perimeter. I’m sure they also had signs at the entrance: No whip-cracking after 10pm. No fornicating on Sundays. No blacks.

Jung believed it was perfectly normal to have complexes because everyone has emotional experiences that affect the psyche. Then again, Jung thought it was perfectly normal to come to work and find Freud with his face buried in a bowl of cocaine babbling about every child’s desire to shag his mother and kill his father.

What was I talking about? Anima, animus, animal. That’s it. Monkeys.

I have about a dozen who visit me every day. I tolerate them because they don’t talk about rugby and almost always clean up after themselves. They aren’t your gangster monkeys from up north. These are complex monkeys.

There is one adult male, four adolescents and four girls all with babies clinging to them. I’m not judging, here. What they get up to in the trees is their business. For all I know, they have arrangements similar to those of our president. It is not for me to criticise their culture, even if it does involve mounting any random female who happens to be in oestrous and on all-fours. We would be doing the same today if the missionaries hadn’t beaten the fear of god into us.

A lot of Durban people don’t like monkeys. They also don’t like each other, but have so far stopped short of issuing calls for their neighbours to be starved, shot and driven out. That is yet to come, I expect.

On a visit to Mtunzini I was feeding some of my people out of the window of my car when I was approached by a woman built like a sack of hammers. She had a face like a diseased rice pudding.

Don’t feed them!” she snapped. “We have to live with them.” Them? Do you realise, madam, that “they” are standing right here listening to every word you say? There is nothing worse than an insensitive, self-righteous specieist.

Have you ever considered, madam,” I said, “that they are the ones who have to live with you?” At that, I slipped into first gear and drove away. In my mirror she seemed hopping mad. I might have driven over her foot.

A few days ago a workshop was held in the glittering metropolis of Tongaat to come up with solutions to the “monkey problem”. Down the road in Umdloti, monkeys gathered to discuss the “human problem”. Their workshop lasted about thirty seconds before breaking for snacks. Well, breaking in for snacks. They resolved to ignore problem humans in the hope that they would eventually go away. To have learnt that kind of strategy they must have an insider on the city council.

Rampal Moonsamy said he had simply “had enough of monkeys”, as if they were an exotic dessert upon which he had gorged himself.

Waiter: “Another monkey, sir?”

Rampal: “I’d love to but I have had enough. I really have.”

Waiter: “How about a mongoose, then?”

Rampal: “Oh alright. But just a small one.”

An Umkomaas resident, presumably unable to travel to Tongaat after being taken hostage by a band of renegade vervets fighting for control of the south coast, sent a letter.

He/she said: “We are sick and tired of the city. We must kill the monkeys. I will continue shooting them.”

This was clearly written by a vervet who had come across the hostage’s bottle of Klipdrift. You can never trust a drunk monkey to type a coherent death threat, particularly when complicated territorial disputes are involved.

Dhun Pillay disagreed about killing them but said they must be “moved back to their own environment”. I can only imagine Dhun was thinking of sea monkeys. Either that or Dhun watched Planet of the Apes and thought it was a documentary. I hate to be the one to break it to you, Dhun, but those trees in your garden? That is their environment.

Rajamah Moodley, 77, said she was taking her washing down when one bit her on the leg. She said she was hospitalised and given five pints of blood. With all due respect, Mrs Moodley, are you absolutely certain it wasn’t a tiger that bit you? There are a lot of them about these days and they are easily mistaken for monkeys.

Fighting a rearguard action, renowned monkey-hugger Steve Smit denied that monkeys stole food.

They see food lying around and assume people are done with eating.” This is true. One of my regular visitors watches me while I eat breakfast and when he sees me flagging, he comes over and says: “Sorry to be a nuisance, old chap, but are you done with that?” If I am in a playful mood I might tease him and offer him the last of the brinjal and fried banana, then pull the plate away when he reaches for it. He loves that game. He loves it so much that he tries to rip my throat out. Cheeky bugger.

Charlotte Chengadu blamed King Shaka International Airport. “When the airport was built, the authorities spent a lot of money to eradicate swallows. What prevents them from finding monkeys alternative accommodation?”

Well, for a start, monkeys can’t fly. But wait – they can! SAA could offer a one-way weekend special for monkeys. To Cape Town, preferably. It could even be a red-eye flight. They don’t care. They already have red eyes. The monkeys get to pay in peanuts which the airline could then use to hire more desk staff. Everyone wins. Except Cape Town. But they have done enough winning lately so fuck them.

Charlotte went on, as I’m sure she does, “We now have monkeys jumping on our roofs. The other day a monkey damaged our plasma TV set.” Well, of course it did. Monkeys don’t watch television. That’s why they are so smart. He was trying to help you, Charlotte.

It was also suggested that fruit trees be planted in a nearby forest to lure the monkeys away from residential areas. But the fruit would also attract indigent people and then it’s another workshop to discuss whether we should capture them or kill them. Perhaps the monkeys could eat the fruit and the homeless could eat the monkeys. All we have to do then is introduce predators into the area to eat the homeless. And then bring in the army to kill the predators.

Finally, Nic Liebenberg suggested that women dress up as men because monkeys were more afraid of men. I don’t agree. You know what monkeys are really afraid of? Harlots. Filles de joie. Sluts. Especially those who don’t mind a bit of the old BDSM.

So, ladies, if you really want to scare the monkeys off, put on a pair of edible panties and slide into a little something made of latex and leather. And wear stiletto heels. Monkeys hate stilettos. Unless your husband hasn’t been completely honest with you, I’m sure he would rather come home to this than you dressed up as a man.

If you’re still worried about the monkeys after that, find a different house. Or a different husband.

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