In THE MONKEY CHARM, an upmarket women’s novel of 62 000 words, Anne Ramone believes that if she protects a young family from domestic abuse, her husband will be cured of his brain injury.
Anne knows it’s strange that she watches over the Singhs, a mother and two girls recently immigrated from India. She is the anonymous benefactor who mails them grocery money, pays for the girls’ summer camp and follows their coming and goings from school. Seeing Lela skip alongside her older sister comprises the few happy moments of Anne's day.
Meanwhile, her own family is falling apart. Bob, Anne’s husband of twenty-five years, suffered a catastrophic stroke three months ago and now the outgoing, athletic cop lies unresponsive in a hospital bed. The crisis is compounded by the destructive reactions of their two daughters. But how can Anne deal with her children’s distress when Bob’s needs are so overwhelming? Unless Bob communicates soon, he will be transferred to a chronic care facility where he’ll be parked in a hallway, waiting to die.
Anne searches for a solution, a catalyst to Bob's healing. She realises that the more she supports the Singhs, the more Bob improves. Then Anne spies the abusive father lurking around the Singh home, despite his restraining order. It is up to Anne to stop him, not only for the Singh females, but for Bob’s recovery as well.
I was awarded two Ontario Arts Council grants and a Toronto Arts Council grant for THE MONKEY CHARM. My writing has appeared in literary journals, newspapers and on national radio. I am a graduate of the Humber School for Writers and have a M.A. in English. You can read more about me and my writing here.
Thank you for considering THE MONKEY CHARM. I look forward to your response.
THE MONKEY CHARM
“He is very mad,” Devanshi Singh said from the witness box beside the judge. She looked down at her hands, twisting a thin copper bracelet around her wrist.
“What happened next?” Crown attorney May MacQuillan asked as she approached her.
Anne Ramone leaned across her desk in front of the judge and tapped the volume button on her cassette recorder. Mrs. Singh’s voice was whispery, infused with a heavy Indian accent. Anne didn’t want any problems transcribing the tape later in her office.
“He come into kitchen,” Mrs. Singh said. “He push chair over.” She made a shoving motion with her arms. “The children are at table. They stop eating.”
“Yes,” said May, moving closer, blocking Mrs. Singh’s view of her scowling husband sitting at the defence table.
“He take plates of children, the dishes. He throw plates on floor.” Mrs. Singh paused, looking down at her lap. She took the tail end of her blue sari and wiped a tear from the edge of her eye.
Domestics were tough, Anne thought, especially on the women with children.
“Do you want some water?” May asked.
Mrs. Singh shook her head. “He say I am bad wife. House dirty. Like animals live here.”
“And then?” May asked gently.
Mrs. Singh stared at the back wall, ignoring the spectators in the gallery. “I tell children go to rooms. Then I clean. I pick up food, dishes from floor. But Ahkilesh is still mad.” Her lower lip trembled.
May caught her gaze and held eye contact as she continued.
“He throw plates at me, bowl, knife, fork. I go like this.” Mrs. Singh spread her fingers over her face to demonstrate, the bangles on her wrist jangling. “I am on floor. He say names, bad names, bad words. I hear children screaming. I ask him stop.”
“He hit here,” Mrs. Singh said, pointing to the back of her head. “I sleep.”
“You mean you were unconscious,” May said.
“Yes, unconscious,” Mrs. Singh said, nodding.
“Police come,” she said, looking down. “I am on floor in kitchen. They say not move. There is blood. From head. Marushka, neighbour, comes, say she has Sunita and Lela. Ambulance come. I go to hospital.”
A man in a trench coat walked into the court and turned up the aisle between the defence and crown’s tables. He stopped in front of Judge Bailey’s bench.
It was Staff Sergeant David Cooper, Anne realised. He worked at 51 Division with her husband Bob. What did he have to do with the Singh case?
Anne felt a touch on her shoulder. She turned. It was Carol, her fellow court monitor, standing beside her: “You have to go. I’ll take over.”
“What’s going on?” Anne asked.
She froze as David Cooper walked toward her. For over twenty years, she had worried about The Phone Call. She wondered when Bob left for a shift, if he would come back.
And now it wasn’t a phone call after all.