Hall of small mammals

Thomas Pierce

Read time: about 2 minutes

I actually don’t know what to say for this one. It is a beautiful story. But I was expecting something more, I guess.

The story is narrated in first person. This man takes his girlfriend’s son to the zoo. Val, the 12 year old child, is a pain in all wrong places. He is arrogant and it is not even cute.

The narrator really wants Val to like him, but of course! They decide to do an outing to the zoo where the Pippin Monkeys are put on exhibit for the public. The star attraction is the baby Pippin Monkey for whom Val is crazy excited. He believes the monkeys won’t survive for long and so the exhibit is for limited time only.

As if it wasn’t unfortunate enough for the narrator to go to zoo- a weekend activity he is completely disinterested in, he has to bear the cold brunt of Val.

Val keeps undermining the narrator. During the course of time the narrator is driven crazy in search of Val, loses his place in the line to see the monkeys for which he has to hear an earful and struggle for an approval of a 12 year old. After a while drama of getting the child what he wants it doesn’t seem to be enough.

Val comes out to be a comic character but only because he is a child. The whole story is written in a curious intimacy that is alluding. I absolutely loved the writing, especially the extra bits of information here and there that make the story more relishing. However, I did not like the ending as much. I guess I was expecting something positive to happen.

In all I think the author is trying to showcase the futility of investing time and emotion into people who have no care in the world for other people. It was done with magnificent charm.

“So,” I said, trying not to sound bored, “tell me about your novel.” Val looked up at me like I’d just asked him to squash the family hamster.

“First of all,” he said, “it’s not a novel. It’s a screenplay.”

“Oh,” I said. “Sorry, I was under the impression it was a novel.” I didn’t tell him that his mother had more than once referred to it as Val’s not‑so‑secret secret novel. “What’s it about?”

The boy sighed. “Okay,” he said. “So what do you know about sensory deprivation?”

I admitted that I knew very little about sensory deprivation.

“Well, you probably won’t get it, then,” he said, and writhed loose from his backpack straps.

Read the story here, or better yet, join in for fun; share stories that you would want us to read! Actually, read along with us!

Veena Choudhary

An avid reader and history fanatic.

Mumbai, MH merakipost.com