LEOPARD AND MONKEY
6 JUL 2012
I had retired for the day over an hour ago. And before going to sleep I tuned in to National Geographic. What came up on the screen looked extremely repulsive and excruciatingly painful to watch, particularly at that point of time. A full-blown leopard was opening his mouth on a tiny, almost new-born, monkey-cub atop a tree.
As I reached for the remote to change the channel, something in the scene, however, seemed unnatural and prevented me from shifting the channel. How did the cub land there, without any trace of his parents?
As I stayed on the channel I was mesmerized to see that the leopard was actually pulling the cub from falling off the slope of the big branch. He did it in the only way he can: by grabbing the cub in his mouth. And soon the leopard settled the cub on the top and in the centre of the branch. So, will he eat it now? Or was he already well fed and saved the cub for another meal? After all, I had watched leopards bringing live deer-cubs for training leopard-cubs, until they all ate their victms.
I kept watching intently, completely bewildered, wondering what the next action would be. No, the leopard did not just save the cub from falling off. He actually protected the cub.
He caressed it, licked it all over, took it into his arms, cuddled it.. until the cub and the leopard went off to sleep, the cub securely ensconced in the outstretched arms of the leopard. Clearly, the leopard had developed a totally motherly instinct for the completely helpless cub. A predator turned his food into the object of his guardianship.
Touched deeply by this apparently non-genetically-coded, seemingly irrational action on the part of the leopard, I asked what led him do this? Is love a universal instinct that defies logic? Does love transcend genetic coding?
Does it emanate in the moment? Is it all about a mere chance? Can such love last? And even if it doesn’t, isn’t it worth a celebration? Who loved whom first? Was it the utter helplessness of the cub that produced guardianship in the leopards mind? Was it pity or love, genuine?
I have no answers. But I am keen to know. And I am ever keener to see this replicated in the human race – multiplied manifold, proportionate to their brain size.
Don’t you ever tell me the leopard eventually ate up the cub!