A much sought-after construction worker, no one would have imagined he would soon be living off a poor monkey. It was when the frequent spells of pain and the loss of strength had made him unfit for any physical exertion that a friend had told him about a trained monkey, available for free, as the owner was returning to his village. If he was careful to keep away from the police, he could earn enough from the street-corner performances of the monkey. The only option was to keep his pride intact and die of hunger.
Tom, who should have been in the forest with his troop, was caught in a trap by a man who had not believed in earning his bread through honest work. He had subjected Tom to untold mayhem during the so-called training. Always bound in chains, it was made to go hungry and thirsty for long periods to make it obey its owner. Finally, it graduated to a performing street-corner monkey, doing antics like forward and backward somersaults, jumping through a ring held high, imitating a drunkard or a shy bride, and doing many such things, earning the applause of the onlookers who threw coins on to the sheet spread on the ground.
Sorry for the dumb animal, he had never treated it badly. Now that his days on the earth were coming to an end, his only worry was the future of Tom. He wanted the monkey to return to the wild and live a free life.
During a break in the agonizing pain, he noticed that Tom, chained at arm's length, was gazing at his groaning figure with concern. The pain was spreading rapidly, limbs getting paralyzed and vision blurred. Suppressing an urge to scream, he beckoned Tom to come closer and sighed in relief when his fumbling hands succeeded, after repeated efforts, to remove the chain.
He struck Tom's back once, none too gently, and urged, "Go!"
When the vehicle carrying the body moved away the next morning, Tom sat among the thick foliage of a nearby tree and followed it with moist eyes till it disappeared around the corner.
He was not worried about one of Ramu's friends searching around the hut, holding a chain in his hands.