We are all familiar with our childhood’s most extraordinary hero- TARZAN, the feral child which had no doubt made a special place in our hearts by his adventurous ordeals in the African jungles. But, yes there is one such real life hero or should we say a lady dare devil, who has been winning great accolades for her dauntless experiences in life.
Unlike other children who go through a period of development, are taught to be civilized and nurtured by love from everyone around, Marina Chapman was forced to live a not-so-normal life at a very tender age of 5. All she had around her were wild capuchin monkeys, atrocious dense jungle, and nothing except her unattended loneliness to accompany her.
It all started when she was playing outside her home, she was brutally made unconscious by a chloroform-filled hanky by several kidnappers. The men drove deep into the Columbian Jungle and unceremoniously dropped her in the woods. She wandered for many days hungry and thirsty, thinking that the kidnappers would return one day, unfortunately they didn’t. She thought a passer-by would rescue her out; however, there was no sign of human-life. Until, after an exhausting night she found herself surrounded by an extended family of monkeys, who looked quite humanish.
She finally gave up and decided to settle in this primeval part of the world, leaving behind all intrinsic manacles of civilized society. She started to learn how to fend for herself; she began to eat berries and roots, nabbed bananas that were dropped by the monkeys, slept in tree holes and walked on all fours. By this time, she had completely forgotten her language. She soon learnt how to climb trees, knew what is safe to eat and how to clean her by herself.
The monkeys would allow her to sit beside them, and when they would go looking for food; Marina would anxiously wait for their return. They even climbed over her shoulders when she actually needed a hug, perhaps the nicest touch she ever could have felt. She learnt and tried to understand the little noises but high pitched screams the monkeys made to interact with other fellow monkeys, like the whistles that were made for food, then going ‘tttttttt’ when grooming each other and giving a warning whistle when in danger. The monkeys became her family. Although there were times she cried out of loneliness, she was happy to be with them and later realized she was turning into of them.
Everything in the jungle revolved around ‘food’. Every morning the only thought that remains throughout her mind was ‘What will you find to eat’ and when you go to sleep, all one thinks is ‘”What can you eat tomorrow?”. She loved to play with birds, lizards and other creepy crawlies. She loved the way monkeys groomed her, because it gave her goose bumps when they used to go through her hair and eat the things they found in it, all together giving her a good head massage with their human-like hands. She learnt to scale trees in no time and had grown tougher than ever before, while her skin on her feet, hands; knees and elbows had become parched and leathery because of constant bark gripping.
Everything was going fine until one day she had an encounter with ruthless hunters. They sold her into a brothel, forced her to clean and regularly beat her up, after all this is what the conventional society are, you see, the big bad world. However, she escaped before she was forced into prostitution. She began living on the streets of Cucuta with other children who were homeless. There were times, she used to rob food and eat from the shop since that was the very way she was taught to be in the jungle. Later, she was adopted by a notorious family who enslaved her. But, to her luck was soon rescued by her kind neighbor, Maria. The nameless girl finally got a name,’ Marina’, which means a Colombian beauty queen.
Eventually she met the love of her life ‘John’ in Bradford and married within 6 months of their courtship. And, she started her new life all over again. Today, she is a respected mother of two, is trained as a cook and is working her way up to becoming a chef at Bradford’s National Media Museum. She makes sure her children never go hungry, since she knows what ‘hunger’ means in true terms. She also serves as a social helper for the young victims who are kidnapped, and has recently launched her book, ‘The girl with no name- The Incredible True Story of the Girl Raised by Monkeys, by great support of her loving daughters who encouraged her to do so. Marina Chapman story had garnered much attention by media throughout the launch of her book.
At times, she heads off to the woods to enliven her childhood memories back. Today, she is a survivor, a resilient and hard person. After all, going through a primitive upbringing and ultimately adapting back into human life is not really ordinary. Survivor or a fantasist in jungle, whatever you call her, she has set a true example for everyone.
She advocates that animals should not be seen inferior to humans, and that is what she means as quite unwarranted. It all says how much she misses her animal family. She adds, “Family is not just about who you appear to belong to… or who you look like… it is found anywhere you are loved and cared for.” Her story is a great example of human perseverance in the course of great obstacles.