RATS LIFE STYLE:
RATS RATS WE’RE THE RATS is a famous blog at the world I was fifteen or perhaps a year older.
when the house we inhabited in the suburbs became infested with rats large as kittens.
The rats were mostly ash-grey, but a couple of them were of a darker tone much closer to black than it was to grey.
They neither attacked nor bit the dogs or us, never harmed a hen, did not chew on any electrical cables, and never did to us any noticeable harm.
We just knew they were around, without a doubt in the kitchen, the front and back yards.
The chicken coop, the dog kennels, and the garage, and probably in at least one of the bathrooms, because of their joyful chatter,
PLAGUES IN THE HOUSE WERE NOT AN UNCOMMON EVENT.
Apart from the I remember a plague of fat black and metallic green flies that we splattered against the windows armed with rolled newspapers,
a plague of green and red hairy caterpillars, a plague of clamorous frogs.
A plague of black-witch moths, and a plague of rainless hail and stones that broke several tiles on the roof. I cannot remember ever seeing cockroaches in the house, though. The bone-chilling cold of the Andean paramo was probably not of their liking.
One can say we were used to the uninvited insects, reptiles, and natural phenomena because these so-called plagues, like everything in life, came and went without major consequence.
Someone in the house, though, decided that the must go, and not precisely on holidays or to live in exile,.
but to the place where the souls of go when kestrels, hawks, owls, cats, weasels, snakes, dogs and humans decide to put a premature end to their already short lives.
Javier, the man-servant grandmother had hired and brought from the northern, mountainous countryside to live with us.
was a peasant of almost forty years of age who ignored how to read or write,
enjoyed most telling whoever would listen about his romantic and sexual conquests and was a self-declared pest-control expert.
When my sexual life started, for example, Javier, and not my father.
was the first to recommend elixirs made with a multivitamin powder, milk and egg yolks to ignite and sustain my erotic potency.
Javier, who always wore a thick woolen ruana over his shoulders, rubber boots and a horseshoe mustache on his face.
informed us that the had come as a result of the solar eclipse that had taken place last February as he swiftly deployed.
Mousetraps in strategic corners of the grounds in which he placed as bait not bright yellow squares of cheese.
like one often sees in television and movies, but tiny pieces of raw flesh from a dead cow or a dead pig.
Now, that’s something, said Javier. Rats and mice do not normally share the same place.
There is always a war we don’t know of taking place under our noses. The little mouse had not had time to even taste the raw bait. The hammer had fallen on and broken the little mouse’s neck. Coagulated purple blood and the mouse’s tongue rested on the wooden platform.
This won’t work, declared Javier somewhat frustrated to his audience. The won’t fall for such a simple device.
JAVIER PRODUCED A GIANT,
bright orange bucket, at least as tall as I was at the time, and spent the rest of the morning and some of the hours of the afternoon tweaking it.
Javier drilled two holes across from each other in the orange bucket’s mouth, placed the ends of a wooden rod he carved from a tree branch in the two holes and two wooden ramps.
He also carved from the floor to the ends of the wooden rod fixed into the orange bucket’s mouth. Javier filled the orange bucket halfway up with clean water to which he added some squirts of dish soap.
At night, before we all said our goodbyes and went to bed, Javier went out and wrapped a stripe of raw cow’s meat around the middle part of the wooden rod.
We’re all set, he told me, before he patted me on the head and said good night.
The first thing I did as soon as I woke up, even before having breakfast,
and I was a fat kid at the time, was to go see the contents of the bright orange bucket.
IT WAS A MASSACRE.
But, after living most of my life in this country torn by war, I was also mostly used to these.
That year alone, a week or so before the solar eclipse brought up by Javier, guerrilla fighters in the town of Fomeque concealed.
an active grenade inside the underwear of a fallen soldier.
The grenade exploded when his peers were transporting his body killing the two soldiers closest to him and injuring five more.
the national soccer squad participated in the soccer world cup. There were no massacres that month. In August in the town of Miraflores guerrilla fighters killed forty-two soldiers and police officers.
In October in the town of Machuca guerrilla fighters blew up the country’s.
central oil pipeline and the spilled oiled fell into the nearby Pune river. `
The guerrilla fighters then blew the bridge over the river.
This new explosion caused the river and the buildings in the adjacent town to catch fire. Eighty-four people were killed either burnt or suffocated. In November in the town of Mitu, they killed sixteen more.
In December guerrilla fighters killed eleven peasants in the town of Villanueva. On the last day of the year, guerrilla fighters killed thirty people between police officers and civilians. Events of this nature took place in that country,
some years less, some years more, since the year I was born.
Eleven large dark rats floated face down in the soapy water.
As I recalled these images, their corpses made me think of the baskets full of dark severed hands of Congolese men and women.
that the European commanders and soldiers under the reign of Belgian King Leopold II brought to their stations.
When the rubber production by the Congolese slaves of the kingdom of Belgium was deemed unsatisfactory,
the soldiers of the king chopped one or both their hands depending on the gravity of the unmatched quota.
JAVIER REPEATED THE PROCESS THE FOLLOWING NIGHTS.
The next three mornings we found even larger catches, but from then onward the number of dead rats halved and then went down to one or two corpses per night until no more large.
were found floating face down in the bright orange bucket.
Remarkably, the stripe of raw cow meat placed in the middle of the wooden rod always remained untouched during the process.
MANY YEARS LATER,
when I had become what people call a man, I read, for reasons I cannot recall, about the experiments performed on rats, remarkable swimmers by nature, by professor Curt Richter in the 1950s.
The professor, perhaps Javier’s muse and inspiration, first placed domesticated into buckets filled with water and simply waited to see how long the rodents survived.
Some of them explored the surface and the bottom of the bucket before giving up after a few minutes and drowning, but the majority swam for days before succumbing to exhaustion.
All the wild though, gave up and drowned in minutes.
The professor concluded that domesticated , who had plausibly received human care and attention,
hoping to be saved from this precarious situation by a warm human hand, struggled on.
THE WILD ANIMALS,
having never been exposed to any care, but on the contrary being constantly threatened by the members of our violent species, promptly gave up and drowned in hopelessness and cold water.
The professor pushed his undoubtedly cruel experiments further.
After following the same first steps of the process, the professor, instead of letting the new batch of rats die in the same manner,
waited until the animals seemed to give up, saved them and helped them recover for some minutes.
THE SADISTIC PROFESSOR THEN IMMERSED AGAIN THE RATS
He had just rescued and measured how long it took them to drown. The wild swam and swam and swam for days until they died of exhaustion. The professor concluded that humans, like, would persevere if they knew there was some hope.
I only hope in hindsight that the sentenced to death by Javier met a quick end.