KATHMANDU, DEC 29 - Like every other day, this one too begins on the bank of a filthy, dirty river. I look at the garbage around me. There is that same unpleasant smell, the same dark-coloured water; noise from the vehicles up on the road rings irritatingly in the air. Yet another date has added itself on to the history of time. Of this fact everyone, and everything alive, including me, is aware.
I peek out of my small house and see the very same things I am used to looking at every day. The sight is beautiful and ugly, wonderful and disgusting, colourful and colourless, charming and boring. Something and nothing.
This has become my world my whole life; I was born here. My mother has told me that many years ago we used to live in holes in the fields. Now, houses have been built over those lands. There are no more fields. So we were obliged to migrate to a place such as this. Here too we have a very challenging life. Strange people come here, and if, by any chance, they see
us, they try to hit us, and shout something like, “Bloody Mouse!”
Yes, these so-called intelligent people call us ‘mice’ and mice we are. We forage for food in these garbage heaps, and that’s not easy. We even risk our lives doing so.
I remember how my grandfather died a few years ago. He used to live with us, and my parents provided food for him. One day, he ventured out to search something edible on his own. He was very slow because of old age. It was perhaps because of this that he was stomped on by a human foot. Later that evening, my mother found him; his body flattened, bathed in its own blood. Everyone was shocked.
As they began dragging his body to the shore, I looked from afar, trying to imagine what death would be like. All of a sudden, everyone started running. Screaming and squeaking frenetically, they abandoned my grandfather’s dead body. A damn black crow picked up his corpse and flew away. I would have slapped the creature, if only I could.
From that day, my mother has never forgotten to warn me, “Do not venture too far off. You might get squashed.” And I have tried my very best to keep my word to momma. I know she loves me very much.
With the very same warning, today also she leaves in search of food. And I don’t know when she’ll return. Actually, my mother tells me that I don’t know many things. She says I’m not old enough to understand worldly-matters. Perhaps these worldly-matters are things understood by grown-ups alone. Just now, I know only one thing that a large bag is thrown near our hole and my curiosity about this bag is increasing. I can’t resist myself and finally climb into the bag. I can’t tell you how long I remain there. It is only when the whole world’s moving slowly in its axis; I realise that the bag is being carried away. I startle and immediately think of jumping off. But then I see that I’m far away from my place and need to cross the road to reach there. What if I’m also crushed like my grandpa in the middle of the road, and then taken away by the same black crow. My death will not be counted; after all I’m nothing but a mouse.
I really don’t know why this abandoned bag is being carried back. And I know for sure this isn’t the time to be looking for possible reasons. The only thing that has any real significance to me is what’s going on. I’m being carried away from home, and I’m afraid as hell. My life is at stake. And I can’t even begin to imagine my mother’s reaction to my disappereance. I am truly sorry for her.
Right now, I am completely helpless, you might even say that I feel like I’m about to go out of my mind. A sudden, loud thud and I realise the bag has stopped moving. I remain inside the bag, and after what seem like ages of clumsy indecision, I find it in me to finally peep outside. What I see is completely different from what I am used to seeing. The place is strange to me, it’s not at all what I’m used to. I am looking at what seems to be a large, decorated room. I swear I’ve never seen such a clean room before, or any kind of room for that matter. Everything looks quiet and organised. My mother has told me about ‘houses’ in which ‘people’ live. She has told me how human beings enjoy many kinds of facilities, and that they often lead rather noble lives. This is probably a place where people live. But I don’t like this place. I feel like an alien in here, far away from my own home. I feel like an outcast, lonesome, outside my world.
For a long time, I just sit there and think of a lot of things, all of which I can’t describe now. My mind stops thinking when my stomach starts feeling hungry, and this is exactly what has happened. I plan to get out and find something to eat, but then, I can see some human feet lurking about. I prepare myself and watch, as I wait for all human activity to come to a halt. I know that the bag has been stuffed beneath a wooden structure. It has four legs, two on either side, and I can sense some movement above it. I gather this must be a bed, “a structure humans sleep upon,” as my mother had told me once. I think I will have to wait, bide myself some more time until the humans fall asleep.
When I open my eyes some time later, it is already dark. I decide this is the right time for me to find something to eat. I sense movement above me, the bed makes a rumbling sound as I decide to go out searching for food. I wonder why the children are playing at this odd hour. I cannot understand whatever’s going on up there. Slowly, the noise stops, and I move towards a small room which smells quite pleasant. I’m lucky enough to nibble at a whole host of food items I don’t know the names of. Most of all, I’m attracted to a large box. I climb on top of it, and see that the word, R-E-F-R-I-G—it’s too long, I can’t pronounce it properly, written on top of it. Anyway, the box smells very sweet, and I quite enjoy the taste of the food I find inside it.
Soon after I finish eating, I creep downstairs, quiet as a mouse.
Ha! I already am a mouse.
I’m seriously careful about anyone seeing me.
At the corner of this big hall, I see one room in which the lights are on. I move towards the door of that room and look inside. There I see a man sitting on a chair. A long strand of hair hangs down from the centre of his forehead. It almost looks like my tail. I think it’s funny that a human has a mouse tail on his head. I can see that he’s writing something. He is probably writing this story of mine! No, no, nonono. I can’t imagine such things. Whatever I find here isn’t special. The room isn’t even decorated like the other one was. To be honest, it’s as dead as anything.
I don’t see any good reason for me to keep looking at this room anymore, so I drag my body to another one. Here, I see a girl standing in front of mirror and rubbing her face. What her plans at this hour must be, I cannot tell. But she’s wearing something bright, and half her body is uncovered. There is a small table and my eyes are staring at some white substance that’s been placed under it. I wish I could eat that—whatever it is. But, I know I can’t do that now.
The whole night I wander from one room to another and everything I see in these rooms is something unique. In some rooms, people are lying down, some on the floor and others on the bed. At some places, I hear strange sounds I cannot recognise at all.
To tell the truth, I’m missing my own place, mostly my mother. The next morning, I have a feeling that I can get out of here, but all I see is a woman holding the same bag that has carried me here, with a needle in one hand and a thread in the other.
Posted on: 2012-12-30 08:59