Battling a rat

Battling a rat

Stools formed barricades; brooms turned to missiles to force him out of his hiding,

It all started with a soft rustle, a mild thud and a long pause somewhere inside the kitchen cupboard early one morning! And there arose an apprehen­sive whisper, “One is inside!” from the family member who first perceived it.

The intruder was not a terrorist or a fugitive (yet no less than one, considering the destruction he left behind in terms of shredded papers, torn clothes and dented plasticware), but just a mouse that had sneaked into the house and had to be ousted if the house has to be saved!  

After an uneasy lull for the morning rush to abate, a flurry of activity to nab the intruder ensued. Stools and chairs formed barricades to prevent the culprit  from entering more valuable  areas like bookshelves and closets. Brooms and brushes turned into missiles to force him out of his hiding, even as two shiny anxious eyes stared from under the fridge waiting to vanish the moment attempts to coax him out got frustrated. And, vanish he did, no one knows to where, only to resurface the night next! 

His tryst with our compound was a regular feature, leaving behind tell-tales signs — uprooted saplings and burrows stuffed with plastics. Though the disappearance of a couple of cute little lamps lit at the tulsi katte perturbed me a bit, I left the tiny creature to himself. And, rightly so, because his antics in our humble compound were negligible compared with those of his ancestors, eulogised in our nursery rhymes!

It was his permanent visa to our house, earned by persistent gnawing of and denting the kitchen door and the nocturnal devastation left behind, that shook us into action.
Someone suggested simple remedies like baits and step-on-stick-on rat boards, a new invention perhaps, that glues the intruder to the board the moment he mounts it. But our culprit seemed to relish every thing else in the house except the baits and marked his path with castings away from the boards!

With the airs of successful trouble shooters, we next summoned a carpenter to seal the dent in the door as a permanent measure. Hoping for peaceful mornings, we slept soundly. But our sense of relief was shortlived.

A flitting movement under the sofa  one day, as if to mock at our efforts, announced his re-entry along with a companion! This was a mystery as all entry points had been meticulously sealed. The riddle was soon solved when they started chasing each other in their famous rat race and one of them amazingly squeezed out through the wash basin outlet, much smaller than it in size!

Now was the turn of the mason. The tunnel laboriously built connecting the outside with the basin outlet was carefully plastered. Yet the sight that greeted me next day jolted me out of my wits! Like a greedy child scraping out a chunk of the barfi his mother had spread out to set, a big scoop from the yet-to-dry cement was lying nearby. Clearly, it was an attempt to reopen the cemented tunnel.

Hats off to the patience and hard work of this creature, the havoc caused not with standing! Somewhere in our country of temples, a rat temple exists where devotees feed them. Is this a clever way of keeping them confined to one place and sparing others the horror? May be!