Tuesday, June 02, 2009

The Undiscovered - Part 1

When Douglas Adams claimed that rats were the most intelligent of all species and that humans were mere subjects of a massively big experiment to find the answer (42) to the ultimate question (no one still knows what it is) he was absolutely right. Rats are a menace. They are cunning, scheming, opportunists and they never forget. I have lived in wooded areas all my life and have had to deal with rats, mice, moles and their cousins gatecrashing into our house everyday. Whenever I am asked to recall the most horrifying scene of my life, I always talk about the huge mole that darted across my study room just as I was about to go for dinner. My father once called a few men to help clean the house. They brought down the TV carton from the loft. I was ten years old then and was watching them as they opened the carton. One mouse after the other kept popping out of the carton. Illegal immigrants, living without visas, they took little time to run away. My uncle-the fearless was once bitten on his foot by a rat in a hotel sometimes in the Garwal district of Uttaranchal, while he was on an office visit. He refuses to go there anymore. My mother vividly recalls that a rat ran across the bed one morning, stopping to check if her toe smelt of food. In short, we have lived most of our lives in mortal fear of recessions, bombs, religious riots, power-cuts, water scarcity and rats.

Some time ago, when I moved to a place half-way across the world. I thought the rats would carry on their nefarious activities at any place in the world but this. After all, immigration laws are really stricts and no one can escape from taxes. I heaved a sigh of relief and slept well at night. Until last night. Shifting noises from the kitchen closet and unusual sounds made me nervous and doubtful. I decided to indulge in guerilla warfare and hid in my bedroom all night, having made sure that I was locked safely in. This morning, as I checked cautiously, I realized that the enemy had left behind his marks. The room was infested with droppings. Things were lying upside down and the sack of rice..oh grief! The kitchen closet is well, a small room with a washing machine and a dryer. The closet however is generously endowed with lofts and storage areas. In one of these lofts, my parents came up with the brilliant idea of establishing a mini-temple. And who should live in the temple but Lord Ganesha! Ma and Baba have energetically argued that when Ganesha is around can a mouse be far behind? I have tried to point out the 20lb sack of rice that has been strategically placed near Ganesha and bears cut marks now, but my words have fallen on deaf ears. A search is on for a brave heart who will bell the cat..er rat. The fear has come back to haunt us.

To be continued....