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Monkey Business This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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Chirp! Caw! Chirp! Squawk! The noises of a variety of exotic birds greeted us as we stepped onto the balcony. The sudden sunlight was blinding, but the cool breeze was refreshing after hours in the sweltering house. Veena closed the door that led to the steep staircase from which we had just emerged. We took great care in walking over the rocky ground to the edge of the balcony.

The balcony had a great view of the surrounding village. Since our house was one of the tallest, every rooftop near us was visible. The houses were clustered together, with only a few feet between them. The fiery Indian sun was setting in the distance, releasing us from its scorching grip. I could hear the rest of our family chatting on the screen porch a few floors below.

Birds were perched on the walls. Captivated by several tiny green parrots, I followed them to a different section of the balcony, while Veena took a seat against the wall.

“Don't lean over the edge too much,” she called.

“Okay,” I replied unconcernedly, far too distracted by the birds.

I tried to coax a parrot to me, but every time I approached one, it fluttered off. Veena called out to me every once in a while to make sure I had not fallen off the balcony.

I tried to speak to the parrots, but they stubbornly refused to mimic me. After a stretch of failed attempts, I gave up and instead started feeding them the sunflower seeds we had brought up with us.

Suddenly, I realized Veena hadn't spoken to me in a while. I slinked back to the other section of the balcony, intending to creep up on my cousin. However, when I turned the corner, I froze.

Monkeys. Several brown monkeys were crawling over the rooftop. At least five of them separated me from my cousin. One was even tugging on Veena's long braid. She was silent and calm, as if a wild primate playing with her hair didn't bother her in the slightest. She had lived in India all her life and was used to being in close proximity with wild animals.

Raising her palm, Veena gestured for me to stay put. Stunned and frightened, I considered my options. Should I run inside even though Veena said to be still? Should I shout for my parents? When no other idea came to me, I just watched the monkeys. Agonizing minutes passed in silence. They were not hurting my cousin, so I realized there was no danger. With their tiny pink faces and miniscule tails, they were rather cute.

Slowly, the monkeys started to depart. They nimbly climbed the wall and, with their swinging limbs, leaped onto neighboring rooftops. As the last of the monkeys disappeared over the wall, Veena slowly got to her feet, opened the staircase door, and led me back into the house.

When we were safe in her bedroom, she burst out laughing, while I was close to tears.

“As long as we don't scare them, they won't hurt us,” Veena said confidently.

When I found my voice, I managed to whisper, “I know. I wasn't scared at all.”

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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