A story by Pamela Blanchetti
You need to come because you are growing up and to grow up you have to see the world-
The sun was shining and the international market had just opened. It was pretty early, it was so nice. Anie felt very awake in the morning – she was not a night person.
And what about me? Cried Pame’s eyes.
-Well, now it is Boogie’s turn, you’ve had the chance to see the world-
Pame couldn’t deny it: Follonica, Germany, London, Chicago. She picked a banana from the basket on the night table and lay down in her space on the bed.
-So Boogie, you have to be nice and calm. It will be exciting for you but don’t be naughty! You will go in my backpack or in my back pocket. If someone touches you, you scream. I will stroke you every now and then and look at you from the shop windows to check you are all right: enjoy the caress if you are relishing the walk, bite, SLIGHTLY, on my finger if you are not. Got it?-
Boogie smiled and nodded as he tried to figure out what a shop could look like.
Anie made a space in the smaller pocket of her backpack and placed a tiny red pillow for Boogie to rest his delicate bottom.
Once the monkey felt comfortable enough she headed down the stairs and in a couple of jumps Anie and Boogie were in the Market. They had only half an hour to enjoy the first rays of the sun before Anie started working at Costa.
Boogie, relaxing in the backpack, observed the people and the houses, the food and the flowers on the stands. He was a tender monkey that liked Anie and wanted to obey her. And always did, really: but those flowers, that smell, those colours. He became agitated and Anie felt the backpack shaking, so she stopped. But before she could even turn Boogie had already jumped out and onto her head.
His skinny legs started shaking with excitement and his weak voice cried out joyfully:
Anie started laughing.
-ABABAUU, Boogie who? Do you know that it is really weird to walk with a monkey in Scotland?-
Boogie didn’t listen and looked over Anie’s shoulders to the flower stand.
ABABAUUU!!! He could not stop crying.
-Boogie please, I know you are excited but I don’t want people to go crazy because you are jumping about. Sit properly. You can talk to me but let’s not attract too much attention, ok?-
Boogie, sill looked over her shoulders, not listening at all.
-Ok then, let’s go home, you are not ready yet-
Boogie didn’t finish the sentence, he sneaked out and climbed up on Anie’s shoulders. He kissed her rosy cheeks then slipped into the small pocket. He was a great monkey after all.
Walking in the street the two friends smelt marvelous odours that gave you some idea of what people’s mornings and breakfasts around the world were like.
Boogie observed everything with such acute curiosity that his eyes became huge and his hands crushed the edges of the back pack as he resisted the temptation to jump about.
They passed a stand which smelt of sweets and one of peanuts and one of jam. Boogie was so into jam and loved to try different flavors, every week or every day if it was possible!
His favorite breakfast was a banana dipped in raspberry jam. Oh, how delicious the one was that he’d had that morning!
Boogie started shaking his bottom, he wanted a new jam so bad.
Anie got the message because she knew how much he loved jam. How could she refuse him. She stretched her left arm back and the monkey caught his friend’s finger and climbed once more onto her shoulder. Again he kissed her cheek and whispered in her ear:
ABBABAU, by which he meant Thanks.
Then they started looking at the jam flavors, but wait…there was no jam!
-Excuse me Sir, which flavor of jam would you suggest?- Anie said, pretending she hadn’t looked properly.
-Jam? I am sorry dear, we don’t have any jam. Here we have chutney for your savory dishes and here marmalades and preserves for your breakfasts and desserts. Moreover if you wish we also sell little jars for spices and treats like chocolate spread!-
-And I guess they are all quite chilly, is that true?-
-Yes smart girl, they are-
Boogie gazed wide-eyed at the marmalade stand which smelt so much like jam. He didn’t know what the difference was between jam, marmalade and preserves. He had often asked Anie or Pame, who had travelled the world, but they didn’t know either. In Italy they had MARMELLATA and CONFETTURA, but still they didn’t know the difference. Once Anie explained that she supposed the preserve would be sweeter. Boogie was very curious, because he imagined it to be as delicious as jam, or maybe even better?!
-You can try, my dear, just pick a cracker-
Anie felt that Boogie’s skinny legs were about to jump towards the cracker jar so she stopped him with her hand.
-Let’s see my friend, Orange and Cinnamon marmalade. That looks great, doesn’t it?-
ABA, ABABABA, ABARA, BAU!!
Anie picked a cracker and dipped the spoon in the jar to spread the marmalade. Boogie didn’t wait for her to stretch her arm towards him but extended forward keeping his tiny legs bent on her shoulder. He caught the cracker in his hands and started biting it quickly. A mixture of emotions invaded him. He was in the center of the world. He started twisting so fast that he rose up into the air, landed and started jumping from one shoulder to the other flying over Anie’s head.
The seller stood still, amazed that he had not noticed the monkey before. A queue was building up, customers asked questions that received no answer, as he stood staring at the monkey as it twisted and jumped.
Anie laughed at the seller’s face.
-All right Boogie we’ll buy it, can you imagine how tasty it will be on your banana tomorrow morning?-
He twisted on top of her head then jumped onto her shoulder opening his arms waiting for the marmalade. The seller laughed and accepted Anie’s payment without asking for any explanation. Because after all what would his first question be?
Anie noticed Boogie’s opened arms.
-No Boogie, you will have it tomorrow morning!-
She placed the marmalade in the bigger pocket of the backpack and Boogie, quite sad, slipped into the smaller pocket only murmuring ABABU for the fear of going back home.
Looking at her watch Amie realized that it was time for work. She didn’t say anything to her friend until they reached the toilet in Waterstones, where she changed into her uniform.
She took some nuts from her pocket.
-Now my little friend you have to behave properly. I have to work and you have to stay in my backpack. I’ll leave you some nuts and water, is that ok?-
She saw his eyes blinking slowly and looking at her absently. The adrenaline had left her friend and she was sure he would fall asleep before eating all the nuts.
* * * *
-ABABU, Boogie who? ABABU, Boogie who? Oh, what wonderful eyes you have! Did you have a nice sleep?-
The little monkey opened his eyes and hugged his friend’s arm that cuddled his face and gathering all his forces climbed on top of her shoulder and kissed her rosy cheeks.
-So, do you want to go back to the market?-
The little monkey had forgotten where they were and what they had done in the morning but it came back to him all at once at his friend’s words. He promptly settled down in the backpack and closed the zipper and his friend laughed as she walked away from Waterstones.
The market was submerged under a warm sun and Anie took off her coat. She enjoyed the warmth of the sun on her bare arms – like a sweet cuddle.
Boogie smiled and enjoyed the swinging of the backpack.
The friends were overwhelmed by all the smells and sounds of the the market Amie sniffed – she could smell wood and headed towards its origin. She saw what looked like thousands of wooden statues. They were of all dimensions, in various shades of brown – some were also painted. Many were shaped like animals, from ducks to giraffes, and some of them were tribal musical instruments or little seats in the shape of hands.
As they walked among the statues Boogie had the illusion of walking in the jungle but then he looked more carefully and started wondering what had happened to those friends of mine? Are they under a terrible spell? Look at their faces, they must have been happy and unconscious of what was happening! He started trembling, first slowly, then so fast that the backpack almost fell from Anie’s shoulders. She immediately pulled it round to the front and reached her arm out towards Boogie to let him climb up onto her shoulder. He hugged her neck tightly.
Aua Boogie, not to strong!-
She took the monkey in her hands to calm him.
- My little monkey, don’t be worried! They are not real animals, they are made of wood and they have never been alive-
Boogie, still trembling, looked at his friend wondering about what she had just said.
-No one would do you any harm - said the sweet Anie. And she felt the trembling lessen. The monkey sneaked back into the pocket which now was leaning on Anie’s belly.
- I will leave you here for now so you can see better - the monkey lifted his head and smiled back at Anie.
They kept walking within the stand. Anie loved wood statues and wanted to find a nice one for her room. A small one for the right amount of money. She looked for a wooden monkey, which well…was her favorite animal, but she couldn’t find one.
Sorry do you have something in a monkey shape?-
Monkeys, you said?-
Well, we have got this small classic set of three monkeys, £15, it’s a bargain. -
The two friends looked at the small set of monkeys: one covering her eyes, one her ears, one her mouth. They didn’t look like monkeys because they had ugly stripes on their faces, stripes that didn’t have anything to do with fingers.
-Oh, those are not nice monkeys!- said Anie laughing. She was often honest and sometimes too honest with people. But she preferred this to lying. After all, did that man not really see that?
-Well, don’t tell me that monkeys are nice!-
Boogie jumped on Anie’s head, all at once, with unbelievable strength.
ABABUBUBAUBABABUBABABABABAU BUBUBUBA and he indicated his body
BABABABAU and he showed an amiable smile and blinding eyes
BABABABABABABABA and he made a boring and anonymous face that looked so like the monkey the seller had.
The seller shook his head, he couldn’t believe his eyes. Maybe too much work had affected his mind. So he looked at the girl. She stood still with her arms on her hips, a very cross face and…a monkey on her head!
So it was real! He started mumbling and agitating his arms to try to say…what?
As Anie didn’t have any intention of talking to him anymore she walked away, before Boogie attracted any more attention. Boogie calmed down and slipped back in the backpack. Anie placed it on her back and he didn’t make a fuss but watched the seller. He was still thrashing his arms about. Boogie blew a raspberry at the astonished man.
Anie decided to leave and maybe return and buy something another day. It was only Wednesday and she knew the market would be there until Sunday. The market was shining under strong sunlight that made every stand look like a lonely planet that was connected to the others with invisible boundaries. She could see it in the eyes of the sellers who did not have any interest other than making Glasgow aware of the tastes and the features of their culture.
She walked to the end then walked around the other side. She didn’t stop at any stand but smiled at everyone who met her curious eyes.
On that side she passed the Italian stand but didn’t stop because she preferred to mingle with the Glaswegians. So she didn’t allow the smell of home to attract her. When she had almost reached the other end of the market she saw a stand which did not sell any food. It was owned by an African man who sat between three tables. He smiled at her absently. On the tables there were sculptures made of iron wires and beads. Lifting her head Amie noticed others hanging from the roof. They were all animals, she realized and they were not only made of beads: she took a big lizard and touched its body. It was made with part of a CocaCola can.
-They are amazing- she could not resist saying.
-Thank you! - he replied absently.
-Did you make them yourself?-
-Well, I will tell you – I think that it is art!-
- Where do you come from?-
-Italy, Florence. Have you ever been there?-
-No but I want to travel in Europe: Italy, France and Austria during this summer-
-That is a great plan. And where do you come from?-
-Oh, I would love to go to Africa. I have been in Zanzibar once…
-I have been there with my family at a resort…that was wonderful but, I would like to go as a volunteer to get to know the people and help the people-
-I like you, because people go to Africa only to see the animals and the nature-
In that moment Boogie felt free to show himself. He climbed up on Anie’s shoulder and sat there. He looked at the man and smiled. And the seller smiled back.
-Well, have a nice day. It was a pleasure!-
-And for you– enjoy your trip to Europe-
Then he waved at the two friends, smiling, no longer absently.