Wednesday, February 02, 2005
DEATH SENTENCE FOR THE PRIMATE
So I'm thinking about what to do about Mr. Bondan. The death penalty. The intelligent suggestion from the interesting Mr. Achmad Taufik, who had never read Mario Puzo's The Last Don, was that his steel cage should be submerged in the river, with the animal within, to mercy-drown him.
I had already been somewhat dismayed by the alternatives that occurred to me: death by electrocution, beating him to death with bamboo staves, stabbing him through the bars, feeding him a rat poison-laced creampuff (which he would snatch from my hand, scratching me and trying to bite, truly bite, the hand feeding him. Quite something! But no, none of those inelegant approaches.
Of course in the book those unfortunates whose steel cages were consigned to the bottom of the ocean were already extinguished, zipped up in heavy body bags. With Bondan he will see it coming, just like Charles Darwin, another ingrate who bit the Baron savagely, and is today playing his simian harp in monkey Heaven.
That's an interesting story. Darwin was stationed down on the Ciliwung at Dudung's house, as my own place in Batu Ampar had become too hot to host monkeys: children getting bit, mothers complaining, local authorities getting into the act.
I'd moved them all to the riverside and was paying Dudung's mother on a monthly basis to host the animals. Darwin had already bitten several children and was wild's though on a long chain up a tree.
We decided to release him into the wild, though that meant bringing him down from his perch, which he resisted strongly, flying around on his chain.
When I attempted to reel him in, to take him off to a cage I had secured to the back of my Binter Merzy motorcycle, he swiveled his head, bit me deeply just above the right thumb, swiveling his head right and left to work the fangs in more deeply.
I could see the bone, peeking whitely through the open flesh. I seized him by the throat from behind, so he could not bite again, and closed my fist to where he could barely breathe. Half-choking, his focus more on getting air than struggling, Mr. Charles Darwin was marched off to the motorcycle.
The locals were already starting to gather, and when they observed the fresh gash, which was strangely enough not bleeding much through gleaming open flesh, it was doubly entertaining.
Here was this bald glowering white man in shorts and t-shirt, throttling an angry monkey, walking wounded to a cage on a motorcycle. The circus comes to town, particularly in a place where a crowd will gather to watch a bule change a flat tire.
Darwin was thrust into the steel cage, and when released turned and gave me a look that said "You may have me locked up in here, but I got you and I got you good". Which he had. I was mostly annoyed at the trouble it was going to be: over to the Condet Jaya 24-hour Clinic, where the jovial attendant would see me walk in and chirrup "Monkey bit you again, eh?" even before he saw the wound.
Trouble was, it was Sunday. The Clinic happened to be out of tetanus vaccine, which is precisely what I needed a shot of to pep me up. The jovial attendant sewed me up, and I reflected once again that head do fine in a Frankenstein film, or perhaps a spell in a seamstress class would do him some good. It was rough but the stitches held and nothing was leaking.
I could already tell that the animal had severed nerves, and six years later there is still a dead area just along the rear of the thumb.
So Suwitno and I took the bike home, unbolted the cage, and rode off again, in search of vaccine.
All the apotik were closed, which struck me as odd, as people need medicine even on Sunday, but I eventually managed to get the tetanus booster, expensively, at Medistra Hospital.
Got home, walked in the door, found the cage empty. "So what did you do with him,â€™ I joked jovially, â€˜drown him in the river?"
Three heads nodded solemnly in unison.
Oh dear. Well, no use crying over spilt SIMIAN. What could I do, what good would a scolding do? The animal was dangerous, it had lost its fear of humans, and with two hundred twenty million of us roaming the archipelago there was practically nowhere you could release a monkey without it homing in on some poor local, raiding the kitchen, biting a child, and getting itself kilt.
Now we have a animal considerably bigger, definitely homicidal in intent, and incorrigible. Better not to send him a halo than to keep him cooped up in a cramped steel cage for years?
(He shakes the cage violently all day long; the whole house shudders in harmony). (Lemme outta this joint. They ain't built a jail yet that can hold me.)
Yesterday was one more nail in his coffin, as I discovered that the well-meaning folk at eBay donâ€™t allow live animals to be listed. Well so much for flogging him down the internet. Looks like the swan dive for you buster.
Confession: fantasy of selling Bondan and Byron over the web for seven thousand dollars. Not a bad price when you look at what macaques are going for in the USA these days. Hopeless.
And I havenâ€™t even bothered about contacting the creatures who export macaques for medical experimentation. I may have to kill this old pal of mine, but will not deliver him to the cold clutches of Dr. Mengele.
I examined my feelings closely, to see whether I felt the need for revenge. Many times in past years I have keenly seen myself as a Tom Ripley, taking neat revenge on another homo sapiens sapiens and not getting caught in the act.
But for Bondan I not only felt no vengefulness, I honestly felt no anger at the stupid misguided son-of-a-bitch. Who was it if not me who saved his life, dragging the vet over to the house on a Sunday evening so she could stuff his guts back into his belly, when Byron ripped him loose.
That must have been it. In his opiated drowsiness, seeing me hovering over him with concern and interest, watching the doctor suture him up, he must have equated the pain he felt with yours truly Baron Infinity. Alas, I could say or do nothing to change that raging monkey mind.
So it was over his head in the filthy river for this dangerous primate. The crowning blow was when all the zoos turned me down, I did not want anyoneâ€™s savaged child on my conscience (Release this mad macaque on an island with ninety million people? I would have to be crazier than Bondan).
Itâ€™s just a shame that no one wanted to take me up on my offer to give the mortal remains for making sate, fried spicy monkey-kebab on a stick. Hell, if you're gonna kill it, eat it at the very least.
My leg is healing nicely. But a mass of nerves are still dead in the calf, and the muscles have formed a large knot where he severed them. Will I ever be able to do my Nijinsky act again?
Electronics repair carried out by a Chinese here will often be as good as that done by a technician in Japan or the West " or even better, because here they have to improvise. If an IC is missing or the power supply on some ancient device, say a Betamax recorder, is burnt out, then they'll come up with something from a dead Korean TV set that they can jury-rig to work.
With pribumis, however, repair is not precisely as we understand it: it's replacement rather than repair. You keep changing the bit that you suspect might be busted until the thing works again. Try changing the water pump? No? Then change the hose to the water pump? Then we replace the entire radiator. Still running in the red zone? Then change the thermostat. Oh, now itâ€™s working! That's great. And you got yourself a nice new water pump, hose and radiator in the bargain. Complain and the mechanic gets profoundly offended.
"You don't understand how we had to struggle against you honkeez for our independence, all those years of suffering against the colonialists, yadda yadda."
What? Are we not discussing car repair or lousy magazine subscription service (the notorious Indoprom)? Pretend offense, look wounded, and always bear before you the standard rationale, emblazoned in gold, for Javanese behaviour:
"It's not my fault!"
You can easily perceive the absence of intellectual analysis, step-by-step breakdown of a problem beforehand.
The so-called mechanic or technician will just plug in new bits under the device comes back to life. How did it comes back into operation? What was defective? Don't even bother thinking about it. That's not part of the issue.
Expatriate of convenience, ruthless
fruit Aryan born of the Strategic Air Command and Lysergic Acid,
this is one mean and fun-loving 64-year-old. He's for sale at the
right price, but the price is rarely right.
Formerly a hardened 1950s Liberal
Democrat by inclination, he writes bunga-bunga (hack ad copy) for a
living in Jakarta, while pursuing easy boys and riding one of his
collection of 2smoke Nipponese sports motorcycles very hard and
competitively. Cross him not, but humour him and he'll laugh you out
loud. Read on and comment at your peril, for here, dear Internet
friend, is 'a screw loose in Denmark'.