It was a pleasant, breezy morning. We set out early to procure some food, before the day got too hot and the visitors disappeared into the malls nearby. It is cold inside there, I had overheard. We perched high on the sill, to scan the large courtyard.

“Would you want to be them?”, he asked me, his long tail shifting from one side to another.

“Mmm, maybe”, I responded, looking for an example — a woman to spot that I could relate to. “It would be nice to try some lipstick and sunglasses”

He rolled his eyes. “Of all the things?”, he shrugged.

We spotted a young couple with a small picnic basket. Hands interlocked, they walked seemingly more engrossed in themselves rather than the archaeology they had paid for. “Wonder why they pay to see ruined structures of concrete”, I thought to myself, as I turned around to steal a glance of the clear blue lake outside with rows of tall luscious peepal trees.

“They are moving to the target. Let’s follow”, he disrupted my thoughts with clear instructions and swiftly leapt outside the window. I always struggled to keep up with him.

The young couple had found one of the famous lovers’ spots in the temple. It was a sufficiently shielded corner, shaded by trees. They laid out a mat, took out a few knick knacks to eat and opened a can of lemonade.

We exchanged glances to acknowledge “any time now”. On a mission like this I would be the protector, and he the attacker. Which means he would quickly land and scoop up a few things to eat -bananas, apples, biscuits. I would encroach our prey to make them uncomfortable or in some cases scare them into believing that a monkey could slap them. “Haha, if only they knew I was the one whose palms were sweaty”

The couple started kissing, immersed in passionate love. Like they had never kissed before. I wondered why they did not prefer doing this in their soft beds and cooler homes. “Next time when he asks about wanting to be them, that will be my answer.” I concluded in my mind. I slowly approached the couple to fix my position. They did not notice me.

Right then we heard a lot of noise. Raised voices. The sound of lathis. A dozen men had approached the various lovers’ spots. “Are you married?”, they raised their voice.“Call your father, you slut”, they demanded. They used their lathis to beat the men who protested.

“Run”, he told me.

“No”, I refused.

A tall man approached.

We sat in front of the couple, in a crouching pose, ready to pounce on the men at any time. Not afraid of their loud voices or their lathis.

The couple managed to escape. A lathi came charging down on me.

— — — —

“I don’t ever want to be them”, I told him in a frustrated tone, as he rubbed my bruised back and fed me a banana.

“Imagine if I had to go find dad and ask his permission every time I wanted to kiss you”, I sighed.

“Or even worse, need a written contract to fall in love”, he completed my sentence. We both smiled, hands interlocked in our beautiful world on the top of the Peepal tree.

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