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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

What is the Best Way to Kill a Mouse?

It should go down in history that I caught a rat and handed it over to two cats that looked entirely uninterested. The rat left!

This rat - God knows where it came from - had become a menace. I can't begin to tell you the crumbs I had to sweep away every morning after the opportunistic flea-infested rodent raided my bread and sunk its teeth in everything it came across.

That didn't threaten me. Then it began tearing pages off my books! Those that know me well know my love of books is boundless and I can never pardon anyone for defiling them. So this rat invades my beloved George Beverly Shea's Then Sings my Soul which I had been reading the previous night, and with its teeth of mass destruction, nips the edges of its pages and scatters the mess on the carpet.

Horrified at the enormity of ruin, I devised a plan that could ensnare and teach this evil doer a lesson. I thought of BOP insecticide but remembered that only fixes cockroaches and other weird insects. How about rat poison? No. Because I hate anything called poison. I racked my brains and decided on employing the tricks I mastered in those good village days when we used to track them down in their deep enclaves. We would then roast and salt them to feed our hunting dogs. That worked for wild rats. But that was then.

To destroy this sneaky rat called for fast moves and ingenuity. Chance presented itself one quiet evening while I sat reading. Our "hero" suddenly appeared and even had the audacity to draw nearer, its ugly whiskers twitching with mischief. I didn't move nor breathe, but watched from the corner of my eye, waiting for the right time to lunge for it. And I did, but missed because in less than a second, the dirty thing had scurried away and disappeared. I had fallen badly and lay on the floor groaning.

That's when I realised how much I detested all the members of the rodent genera.

"Damn them," I cursed.

And a film so harrowing began playing on the back screen of my mind. It was about the creepy feeling I got when I first read Albert Camus' The Plague, where an army of dead rats carry fleas that cause bubonic plague that almost wipes the town clean of its people. I then remembered hungry rats descending on the corpse of poor old Sounkare in Sembene Ousmane's God's Bits of Wood and mauling his corpse to the bones.

Determined to eliminate my enemy, I buttered a slice of bread, tore it into pieces and dropped them in a bucket. I switched off the lights and left it to the creature to find its meal.

How it jumped into the bucket, I don't know but when I found it in the early morning, it was not amused. It stood on its hind legs, talons seething, stretched its grotesque mouth, defecated and beat its fat tail against the bucket, jumped, made some irritable noise and finally crouched in helpless surrender.

I covered the bucket with a basin and carried my prisoner and delivered him warm and live to my neighbour's two able-bodied kittens.

Imagine my shock when they looked on with disinterest as the lucky rat ran for dear life! Now if this doesn't go down in history, what surely will?

--Daily Monitor, Monday March 17, 2008