A Monkey Almost Made Me Blind

It was a sweltering Saturday night in Dhaka, the capital city of Bangladesh.  I was in Grade 4 and attending an extravagant wedding after party, with hundreds of people, that was as glamorous as the wedding itself.  The outside venue was well lit with scintillating chandeliers, draped with velvet carpets, all leading up to the golden stage at the front.  On it, sat a newlywed, looking sick of the number of sweets they had to eat from the guests.  When it was my turn, I tried to give them the smallest piece possible, which was appreciated by the bride, but I was scolded later as if the size of the sweet determines my character.  Being so young, I thought this was the worst mistake I have ever made.

Little did I know that I was about to do something slightly more dangerous that night.

Towards the end, my uncle noticed that my sister and I were getting bored with the monotony of the party. He knew that we would rather be exploring the midnight streets of Dhaka than sitting politely, with sweaty makeup and scratchy clothing.  After convincing my mother for twenty minutes, we were finally allowed to go down the street for a surprise.

“Do you want to see what Bangladesh is really made of?” he asked gleefully.  

“Yes, uncle!” we answered with the same enthusiasm.  

I hiked up my lehenga* and walked beside my uncle, listening carefully to the vague hints he was giving us.  All I could conclude was that it was outside like the after party.    

Finally, we reach a bristol board with red Bengali letters that sat in front of a rusted copper gate.  I got scared of the eerie creak of the gate and clutched onto my uncle’s hand, my heart palpitating ever so slightly.

“It is okay, Nazeefa,” my uncle reassures. “I have a friend who works here and he would be more than happy to show you and Nabeeha around.”  My sister looked confident on the other side, so I straighten my back and follow them through.  I was older, and I needed to act accordingly.  When we entered the lot, a small man greets us with a heavy villager accent that I struggled to understand.  I picked out a few words like “cages” and “careful” but I was too busy taking in my surroundings.

Numerous metal cages were perched on concrete stands in a circle around us.  They held a variety of apes that shifted their eyes in our direction as if our arrival was a very interesting event.  After a bit, all of them put their original sullen look on their face again, except for one.  

It was not anything special.  The monkey was the size of a toddler, with streaks of silver in its brown fur, making it look elderly.  Clinging onto the vertical bar of the cage tightly, the monkey lifted its furry chin up until we were face to face, curiosity keeping its eyes wide open.  Being nine years old, I thought it was the cutest thing I have ever seen, a real-life version of the Beanie Boos at ToysRUs.  Bending down and leaning in closer, I examine its light amber eyes with my dark brown ones.

I was speaking to it like one would coo a baby, “Oh my god!” I exclaim.  “You are so cute! Your eyes are so big, and your nose is so small, and—”

In the span of a few moments, time slows to the speed of an escalator in an old home.  Its mouth opened all the way, revealing vampire pearls lodged into its meaty gums.  The once beautiful looking eyes became a muddy red, angered by the strange behavior of a nine-year-old child.  My pupils dilate, as I see the monkey’s left hand straighten, and its ivory claws come towards my eyes with unimaginable speed.  Still, I continued to stare with wide eyes close to its face, wondering what it will do next.

To my surprise, my quick reflexes kick in without my permission, and I jerk backward, almost stumbling onto a cage behind me.  A monkey from behind claws at my spine until I move away, pulling a few threads in the process.  I survive everything with a scratch on my nose and eyelid, and an experience I will never forget.  Had I not reacted, I probably would have lost my left eye that night.

Looking at the monkey in shock, I wondered how something seemingly innocuous could be volatile as well.  My heartbeat spread across my entire body; even my fingers were pumping, making up for the oxygen that I was not breathing anymore.  It continued swinging at the air, as I scrambled after my sister and uncle – they had not noticed a thing.  Even though was too terrified to turn and look at the monkey once again, I could feel its claws digging into my spine all the way back to the party and on the way home.

I covered up the scar on my face with my mother’s foundation for the next week and kept what happened a secret for the next four years.  Now, it is a funny story I share with my friends and family, but sometimes, I think about how one monkey in the capital of Bangladesh could have changed my life forever.

*a lehenga is a cultural dress with a long skirt at as the bottom that is usually embellished with intricate designs



6 thoughts on “A Monkey Almost Made Me Blind

  1. Dear Nazeefa,

    I really enjoyed reading this! Your descriptions are very well written and I could picture everything in my head. The flow of the story was very smooth and kept making me want to read more. The title also added to it, catching the reader’s attention and helped the reader want to make it to the end of the story to know the outcome.

    One thing I’d suggest is to explain a little more in depth of what you felt in the moment and after it had happened before you left.

    I hope to read more of your pieces in the future!


    1. Dear Caitlyn,
      Thank you for your feedback! I am glad that you enjoyed this piece. I can see how the end seemed rushed, and some added detail could have improved the storytelling. I should have put as much description into it as I did in the beginning.
      Again, thank you for reading my work.

  2. Dear Nazeefa,
    Wow! I loved reading your piece, it was so captivating. I am astonished by the amount of suspense you have engraved in your work along with the imagery. This is really important because I’ve seen many pieces of writing where the imagery causes dullness in the story or poem. However, the fact that you were able to incorporate so much imagery and have your anecdote balanced at the same time is really amazing.

    In terms of improving anything, I didn’t find any grammatical errors or with the paragraphs overall.

    I loved reading your piece and hope to read more of your work in the future!


    1. Dear Maira,
      Thank you for taking the time to read my piece! I am glad that you enjoyed the imagery and the storytelling as well. I understand how it is important to balance the two you mentioned.
      I look forward to your comments in the future!

  3. Dear Nazeefa,

    I was immersed into this read! This was a spectacular piece and I loved the attention you gave to detail when explaining your anecdote. Your work was laid out in an organized manner and therefore It was easy to follow along with everything you were going on about it. The flow was very strong and it captured the reader to keep on going. You were very clear with your thoughts and it felt like I experienced the set of events you stated with you. The image you painted was great as you went along explaining your story. Other than a few GUMPS your writing was good and very understandable. It was a smooth read.
    You’re a strong writer keep up the amazing work! I look forward to read your future pieces.



    1. Dear Arzoo,
      Thank you for taking the time to read my piece! I am glad that you enjoyed it, and made sure to explain which parts. I know that when it comes to writing, I focus more on the content, but I have many grammatical errors. Therefore, I reread my writing numerous time to catch any mistakes. I am working on improving my editing skills, and am glad you pointed it out to me.
      I look forward to your comments!

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