I was home for the weekend after 2 months. This wide interval was deliberate. My suspicion that my folks were taking me for granted fortified when they made my room a store-room of sort and explained that I live in the living room couch anyway.
So that fine early morning as i bounced around home, joyfully poking the dog in his ribs on the way, I didn’t have a clue that, that day would some day become a blog post.
Lunch was already in my mind as I lay studying the ceiling in the couch after a heavy breakfast at 9 in the morning, which is usually when i down a glass of milk, grab my purse and run to catch the office bus on a weekday. My father popped up in the scene with a broom and a sweeping board. It had all the appearance of a chore. So in my fight or flight mode, I competitively chose flight and ran for cover to the next room. Once there, I tried to catch my breath and i smelt a rat.
No, I really, literally smelt a rat.As i stood there stupefied by the stink, my father popped up in the scene again. He handed me the broom and said, “stop fooling around and just get the rat babies out”. Whaa? Rat?? Babies??? Out???? Ma shouted from the kitchen that a few rat babies were lying dead inside the shelf and putting a pig sty to shame by stinking up. Since father had a knee pain guess who is cremating them…
I sighed at this outrageous display of nonchalance towards my wish to stay away from rat babies, dead or alive. But you gotta do what you gotta do to earn lunch. I proceeded to make a crude pair of gloves with 2 plastic covers, tied a scarf around nose and mouth and tied up my hair in a tight ponytail. I just needed Tomb Raider/Kill Bill/Mission Impossible/Rocky theme music to set me rolling.
And roll I did. At the sight of the first dead rat baby. From the top of the stool perched precariously on the edge of the table. When my shaking broom brought the poor red rat baby sweeping into the board, I shrieked and threw the broom and rat baby up in the air and jumped down. Then shrieked again when the rat baby landed close to me. Finally i picked some courage and the rat baby reached its final destination viz a hole I dug under a guava tree. This experience was too much for me to handle and I took a breather, during which I wickedly planned to make the dog eat the rest of the dead rat babies. But the prospect of digging a bigger hole prevented my vile intentions from coming true.
Rat baby 2. My hands were shivering to match the legs. Sweat poured down in torrents and mouth turned dry. The sight of little lifeless body rolling around at each sweep of the broom was scarier than death itself. I swore and shrieked and shouted my way out of the house towards the guava tree. I had no energy left and my throat was itching because of all the shouting and i made father bury the one baby left. Knee pain had to just wait and frankly he preferred doing it himself than witness the drama.
Post this mental trauma, I was perched atop the slab in the kitchen, swinging my legs and crusading through a pack of Lays, describing to ma how smartly and with very agile sleight of hand I had removed the rat babies without spilling their innards (how is she to know there were no wounds at all), when I wondered loudly what kind of example was the rat mama setting by abandoning 3 little red babies on their own to die! My blood boiled at this injustice and I cursed the day the rat mama was born. I wished I could bring all evil down on her for the suffering she caused her babies and me. Well mainly me. I munched on my chips angrily. Then I caught sight of my very silent ma. I peered curiously at the back of her head. She finally had to turn around and confessed with this hangdog expression,”I might have kept rat poison and 1 rat might have died 2 days back”.