What was that sound? It was midnight. I rushed to the kitchen. A stainless steel plate was on the floor. A cat? A mouse?
I saw him (him? How did I know it was a he? I didn’t). A huge mouse. I tried to scare him away. He ran out of the kitchen. Sleepy as I was, I didn't pursue him. Next day Jayasree (my wife) said he was still in the kitchen.
I closed all doors except the one to balcony. I tried to shoo him away with a mop. He ran and hid under the sofa. My mop followed him. I followed the mop. I was in his hot pursuit with the mop. Jayasree was standing now on a chair and then on the table, or on the sofa, or the dining table scared that he would bite her.
He took several rounds of the room ... under the sofa, under the fridge, on the TV stand, over the show case, on the dining table, on the chairs … He spared no place, but couldn’t escape from my scaring mop. On to the TV stand for the fifth time. And on the grill of the cooler, which was running. Oh God! I didn’t want his severed body in the cooler. I switched the fan off, but it was too late. The fan blade had hit his nose and he had become motionless.
We were stunned. NO! NOO! We didn’t want this to happen. Certainly we didn’t want to kill him. Never! We only wanted to shoo him away. Oh! God! Forgive us! Agreed, I was running after him for an hour, perspiring profusely, hungry (the hunt had begun at about 12.45 p.m.), angry, desperate. Yes, I was all that, but I didn’t want to kill him.
And look at him, stuck in the grill of the cooler, motionless.
It took a few minutes for me to come out of the shock. We should remove the body. I approached him with a polythene bag to collect the body. (Please, don’t look at me like that. I was not going to take him to the crematorium with a priest following me!)
Lo and behold! The ‘body’ was moving! YES! He was not dead, after all. He had only become unconscious. THANK GOD! We heaved a sigh of relief. (I hear a voice there ... a doctor? No, he would recover on his own, I was confident.) Maybe the fan blade hadn’t hit him after all. It was probably the strength of the air that caught him. Or maybe the prospect of being hit by the blade had scared him so much as to make him unconscious. Whatever be it, we were relieved. Very much relieved indeed.
He was moving slowly. He crawled on to the fan of the cooler, which had by now stopped completely. I opened one side of the cooler for me to have some free space to catch him, now that he seemed to be recovering fast. I tried to get him into the polythene bag which had been passed on to me by Jayasree so that I could leave him somewhere far away. But he had better ideas. He jumped on to the floor and dashed into the rain water pipe. At last!!
He could have done this an hour ago! And saved the tension of all of us!
I was thinking of taking a little rest when I heard this piercing shriek. I rushed to the kitchen. Jayasree was frozen and horrified. Her eyes were fixed in a corner. There was another one looking at us! Oh! God! Not again! I could read her (her? ... just for a change) eyes pleading, ‘No, please. Let me go.’
This one had probably been listening to what had been happening for the past hour. So she knew she had to escape and better make it fast. After taking a few rounds of the room (she didn’t want to surrender without a fight!), she headed straight to the balcony and into the water drainage pipe.
We had to do something. Very often mice came into the room or kitchen and it was certainly not a pleasant thing. They come in through the drainage pipe. I tried temporarily to close the pipe using several methods, but nothing worked. I did not want to use rat poison to kill them. I believe they have as much right in this world to live as I. But, well, I have my rights to prevent them from coming into my home. The next best thing was to get a mouse trap.
I started hunting for a mouse trap. None of the nearby markets had any shop from which I could purchase a mouse trap. And they didn’t also know where I could get one. Does it mean a mouse trap is not on the list of regularly demanded items? Are there no mice in the hundreds of flats in all sides of the market? I searched in Khoda village market a few kilometres away. At last I could find the trap in a shop. The shop was ‘boyed’ by a boy of about 12 or 13 years. On enquiry, he enthusiastically showed me a few of those he had got. I picked one of the conventional traps.
He immediately asked me to wait and ran inside. He brought a few new model traps. They were ‘doubled decked’. The mouse would enter the trap through a door to eat the food kept inside. The food is kept beyond a trap door. The moment the mouse steps on the trap door it opens and the mouse falls into the ground floor where it gets trapped and the trap door immediately shuts over it to welcome its next victim. The boy was so enthusiastic to sell this particular trap to me. He demonstrated how the mouse would enter, step over the trap door and get trapped inside. He assured me that more than one mouse gets trapped in it. He emphasised that it was very useful and even gave the names of a few people who purchased such traps and were happy with its performance. Though I was not very convinced, I was carried over by the boy’s enthusiasm. More to please him than looking at the extended usability, I purchased one of the double-decked new model, though it was costlier.
I kept a piece of bread in the trap and kept it at the mouth of the drainage pipe in such a way that if and when the mouse comes through the pipe, he has no other way to go than right into the trap. I prayed to God to help me catch at least one mouse so that we will be rid of that much nuisance. The first thing I did when I woke up the next morning was to go and check the trap. It was dark and I had gone to check even before switching on the lights in my anxiety. I could hear some movement inside the trap and was very happy. I found to my pleasure that there was not one, but two, mice in the trap. In my mind I bowed before the shopper boy. I had not believed him at all till I actually saw two of them together. They looked at me: fearfully, pleading, apologising.
The next problem was to dispose them off. I couldn’t kill them, nor could I let them off. I took the trap in the car to a distant (about half a km away) waste collecting spot and opened the door. They jumped out and ran away. They must have been laughing at me to have let them off without harming, which they probably did not expect. To cut a long story short, I caught nineteen mice in six days flat. Except for one or two days, the catch was always more than one. The highest number of mice caught in one night was five! Every time I took it to the waste collecting spot and released them.
Now, there are no mice in my home. They must be happy wherever they are. And we are happy here.