ATITHI TUM KAB JAOGAY?(When are you leaving Mr.Guest?)

These holidays we had a very peculiar, most unwanted guest. It was a mouse ! Staying on the ground floor, we were quite proud of keeping a house which did not have any major pests. So, the arrival of this mouse unsettled us no end. After making a recce of the house and damaging a comforter, the mouse chose to settle down inside the back cushion of the laz-y-boy recliner. Not knowing where the insistent, energetic noise was coming from in the drawing room, we upended the divan and the sofas, gave the mattresses and pillows a thorough shake and found nothing, not even a loose shred. When the maid came to sweep, she discovered some shredded foam under the recliner which gave us an indication of his preferred region of settlement.. So, every day it went on, some sessions of vigorous, noisy bitings and a mound of shredded foam and the droppings to clear. I stopped sitting on the recliner. But my husband did not mind a peaceful co existence with the guest. He would continue his afternoon siesta on the recliner regardless of the irritating sound in the back. In fact, he said he felt like Lord Ganesha with a mouse for company!
We kept the doors wide open expecting that the guest would want to go out sometime. No, he was very comfortably settled there. I was wondering how he would survive there without food. But one day, I detected a big chunk of the pitted dates packet bitten off. So, before his sojourn into the recliner, he must have fortified himself well.
My husband’s first thought was to arrange for a mousetrap. But we heard that the mice of modern day were too smart to be caught in the traditional trap. The only alternative left was to put some rat poison inside the recliner and hope for him to take the fatal bite.
The rat poison cake from a well advertised company was introduced inside the recliner. Though the literature with the cake told us that the rat would take 4-5 days to die, we expected that the death throes would weaken the rat from the day of the first bite itself. No such luck. The manufacturer and we knew that the five days were coming to an end. But the mouse didn’t know it! Our expensive laz-y-boy kept losing its foam like a patient under chemo- therapy as the sessions of the vigorous biting continued. Since we had not checked on the sex of the mouse before its entering the recliner, my husband even suspected that it might be a pregnant mouse which had chosen the shelter for its delivery. A daunting prospect indeed! Let one in, get 4-6 little mice free!
Since the recliner had a vibrator in the back for massaging, we thought we would get it going to give him a scare. But, the vibrator would not start, as the first thing he had chewed off in the recliner was the connecting wire!
Finally on the sixth day, the noises stopped and the shavings too. The rat poison literature had promised us that the rodent would not die inside the house but would go out and die. We kept our eyes peeled to catch the grand departure, ready to sing Auld Lang Syne. My daughter quipped, “Poor fellow, must have exited singing his own Funeral March” As opposed to his stay of which there was solid proof, we could only surmise his departure. Till then we would have to keep our fingers crossed and our noses plugged.
When there were some tell tale foam shreddings on the seventh day and some vague noises, my maid suggested that we introduce a decoy. “Keep a newspaper in the recliner. If he is there still, there would be shredded pieces of newspaper too along with the foam. Otherwise, there will be only foam shreddings fallen down due to the pressure put on the chair”. When I was about to put some old Bengali newspaper from my Writers Workshop carton, my husband advised, “Don’t keep the Bengali paper. This mouse belongs to Karnataka. He might prefer a Kannada daily”. Later in the day, the vigorous gnawing and biting went on in full force. The newspaper was also shredded giving solid proof of the mouse’s continued stay.
On the eighth morning, when we were planning to get someone to dismantle the recliner (another option was to sell it along with the mouse), our friend-philosopher and guide aka our opposite house owner suggested a mat in the form of a CD box with a special glue on it which when the rat comes in contact totally immobilizes it. So, it would be only a question of getting rid of the carcass.
The reusable box was kept open inside the recliner and hurrah, the three inch marauder was indeed stuck on it the next morning and was disposed off by my hero Ramu! Thus ended the 9 day ordeal.



When I dash off blogs, I do so without any research on the subject nor do I consult anyone with similar experiences. But people who after reading the blogs, do remember similar events in their own lives and relate them to me. Since some of these rejoinders are more interesting than my original blogs, I have put them down here.

Having read my blog about ‘Borrowing’ from neighbors, my niece Kanthi had this to say. When her mother visited Kashmir, she bought for her a walnut knife stand in the form of a peacock where the knives were arranged along the spread out plumage. One young neighbor offered to take it to US and mail it to my niece.After landing in US, she never bothered to part with it in spite of many reminders from Kanthi. Finally she mailed it after four full years, that too at her husband’s insistence. Later when she rang up Kanthi to find out if the package had reached her.she had the guts to say, “Well! I enjoyed it in my house for four years. It is now your turn!!!”

My sister-in-law Rekha had this to say after reading my blog, “The gateless existence”. In that blog I had mentioned the vicissitudes of living in a gateless house and how entry on to the driveway and the house had become a free for all including livestock. One day my mother-in law had been shocked to see a bull relaxing in our cool stair well on a sunny day, the same having entered by the side door which had been left open by mistake.
Rekha reminisced about how once when they came back to the same house in the night from a motor trip to Kodaikanal, they were shocked to see a white horse standing under the portico! She said it was almost like a fairy tale, where the gleaming white horse was waiting for the master to take off on its wings!

My third blog which stirred memories was about ‘Compatriotism’. In that blog, I had discussed our Indian mentality of giving too much importance to NRI celebrities and achievers just because they had their birth in or some remote connection to India. My grandson Shriram who read the blog had this to narrate. “There is a famous pop singer in Australia whom I tell everyone that he is actually an Indian .But, later it struck me that when the chap himself is not proud of his Indian roots, having even changed his name to conceal his Indian origin, why should I take the trouble of telling all that he is an Indian by birth!”

When my cousin Susheela read about the games we used to play at our grandfather’s place in my nostalgic blog, she reminded me of the ones we used to play with dry tamarind seeds. These seeds would be painstakingly gathered when the lady of the house rejected them after pulping the tamarind for the day’s cooking.

There were two games I remember. One was purely a game of chance. It was to take a fistful of seeds from the heap and challenge the opponent to guess whether there were even or odd number of seeds in the fist. The one with the maximum number of correct predictions would be the winner.

The second game ‘uffi Kalu’ depended purely on the strength of one’s breath and the dexterity of the finger tips. Taking a deep breath you blow on the heap of seeds to scatter them to the maximum extent possible and then you remove the seeds one by one carefully with your finger tips without disturbing the neighboring ones. Once such a seed is disturbed, you become ‘out’and your opponent gets to breathe out on the newly gathered heap. So, the one with maximum seeds thus accumulated would be the winner.