Saturday, September 9, 2017

Rat Stories

This morning there was a rat in my kitchen. Until last night s/he was free to roam and break my 'Thought For The Day' coffee cups with impunity but now s/he was occupying a well ventilated 1 BHK trap in a corner. We both waited for release.
But, wait, I'm getting ahead of myself.

The first time a rat visited a house I was solely in charge of, was in 2014. At the time, I was flush with the privileges of my birth and didn't want to engage with the rat issue (the way some people "just don't believe in politics"). But when there is no one else to prevent your home from becoming a cesspool of vermin, one grows up well before their time (or right on time, if you, like me, are in your mid to late thirties). The rat was in my house and so was I. We were alone together.

Back then, it seems like a lifetime ago, I opted for bars of sweet-smelling rat poison. "Ghar ke baahar martey hain" seemed like the ideal final situation. I didn't stop to think about the violence of it all (someone once told me, "You eat meat. Don't pretend to be against murder" so I shrugged in agreement and from that day on, became a dangerous assassin). The poison worked well that first year and I didn't stress about rats anymore.

In the second year, I found a rodent skeleton in the nether regions of a cabinet that I'd just removed from storage after 3 months. The skeleton and I stared back in horror at each other. I couldn't believe I had to deal it with myself. So I got myself a boyfriend (well, ok, the boyfriend already existed. He just happened to be in the house when the body was discovered). He came from a chaste upper-caste family and I could tell that extracting rat skeletons didn't jive with his vibe. So I wrapped a plastic bag around my hand and went in. And I mean all in. Because even though its little ratty soul had left its body, the body refused to unstick itself from the bottom of the drawer. Ladies and gentlemen, I tugged.

Have you ever tugged at the mortal remains of a once-alive-with-hopes-&-dreams thing? I don't recommend it one bit. It puts you off your grub forever (yet somehow your weight keeps increasing). Once the body was disposed of, the boyfriend decided to overcome his yukkies and helped me clean the cabinet. He received a medal of valour that day. Then we broke up. Despite this, the rodents kept visiting.

By now, social media had grown me a conscience and I decided that I could no longer kill rats, who bore no ill will towards me. I had to trap and release them like a compassionate Buddha (who ate meat by the way so shut up). This went against every ethic held by the entitled shit that lived inside me. She argued - why do I have to be brave all the time? Why do I have to be the one who cleans the toilet every single time? Why do I have to put all my hard earned money into house rent? The answer came swiftly from the annoyingly-smart-lady in my head - because you live alone and get to eat whole blocks of cheese without sharing.

2017 was a new dawn. The monsoons arrived and with it, a new rodent. This time it was caught not by the noise it made in the kitchen, but was felled by its unfortunate taste in pop music. One morning I was listening to whatever Apple Music tells me I like and Ed Sheeran came on. As he warbled about loving the shape of me (stay tuned for the remix version 'Shape Of You - Time To Go On A Diet') a tiny rat nose peeked from behind the speakers. I saw it but didn't scream. I mean, how can you get scared by a rat who's clearly gettin' its groove on (or, if it's like the ex, getting off on vibrating surfaces). We waited for Sheeran to fade out and then I yelled. It ran. I set a trap that very evening before I left for my walk.

One of the most under-reported benefits of cardio exercise is the courage it gives you to deal with vermin. When I returned from my jaunt I was practically reeking of irrational bravado. I opened the front door, saw the president of Sheeran's fan club trapped in my aluminium cage and right there decided that I was Sparta. I invoked the memory of my father (he's not dead, he just lives in a different house) as he'd set out on muggy evenings like this, trap in tow, off to look for shrubbery at a safe enough distance so the rat couldn't return.

The rat and I went for a walk. Along the way, we met folks from the building who cheered me on with "Oh. Rat?" and "Ohohoho." Many gave us wide berth as they saw us approach (was it the rat or was it my unmarried-at-38 status? We will never know). I made it to a barren spot of land outside the colony. I opened the cage door and waited. The rat refused to leave. It didn't trust me and I couldn't blame it. It sat in the trap as I made hrrummpphing noises. Then I begged "Please rat, please go. I'm trying to be nice." Never underestimate the power of good manners. The rat bid me adieu and scampered off.

Which brings me to this morning. I woke at 4.30 am knowing there was a rat in a cage in the kitchen, where my breakfast also lives. But I felt none of the bravado of last time. It must be PMS I thought, sorely disappointed with myself. Stop being an ass that rat is more terrified than you you've done this before imagine people who kill rats with their bare hands your privilege (or is it patriarchy?) has ruined you you can't even carry out the basic acts of survival. For some strange reason, I put on an oven mitt and changed from my shorts into a salwar. That didn't help. I still didn't want to engage. Meanwhile the rat was getting restless. It must have been tired and scared and was probably regretting taking that gap year to go see the world. I had to make a decision.

I decided to wait for the young man who collects the garbage. No, how could I? Wasn't that terribly exploitative? I will pay him. Yeah still doesn't make it better. I will request him nicely and if he refuses I will be okay with it. Acceptable, you phuddu. From 5am till 8.30 I hung by the door like never before (wondering when I will stop waiting for men like this and just get on with my life). At last, he appeared with his sunshiny happy face.
'Psst'
'Hello?'
'Hello hello. Kaise hain?'
'Good?'
'Accha aapse kucch kaam thha. Aap manaa kar sakte ho. Mai pehle bhi kar chuki hoon lekin aaj bahut darr lag raha hai. Matlab pataa nahi kyun wohi cheez jo pehle daraati nahi thhi aaj dara rahi hai. Kabhi aapke saath aisa hua hai?'

'...... kooda hai?'
'Hahn. Lekin, ek second andar aiye...?'

In an instant he went from sunshiny happy to 'am I going to be murdered by a dangerous assassin?' and I realised I needed to get to the point quickly. I confessed about the rat. I confessed my inadequacy. His face relaxed and the smile returned. Show me the rat, he said and strode into my kitchen. With a gallant sweep of un-mittened hand he scooped up the trap and exited the premises, my grateful cries of 'ghar se door chhodna....' trailing behind him.

I returned to the kitchen to sweep up the debris of nibbled bread and rat poop. There was an air of lingering rodent in the air (Not literally. Like relationships, rats don't stink until they're dead). There was this feeling of having shared this space with an unwelcome roommate, now gone. The relief was yet to set in, I knew it would take some time. I felt nauseous and defeated, most un-spartan. I was grateful for the young man who helped me but also ashamed of my cowardice.

Then the phone rang. It was the rat. Calling to tell me, in a hissing voice, "you can't get rid of me so easily...you know I'll be backkkk....sssss".
No it wasn't. It was my mother. When I told her this story she got impatient and said, "Shut up. You think too much. We used to get rid of rats all the time. Besides, rats don't hiss."


Thursday, August 24, 2017

Plagiarism

Last night you were in a dream
sitting at my desk writing furiously
I leaned over your shoulder
memorised the words, believing
when I woke up they would be mine
But something happened in the flash between sleep and waking
You left with your sheaf of papers
Dribbles of drying ink
trailing in your wake
Now I sit at my desk with wisps of words remaining
I must sleep again and hope
you visit once more

Friday, July 7, 2017

7.07.17


I made a thing. It's not a great thing but it's mine and after 17 years in the dungeons of broadcast TV, I felt like the soon-to-be Count of Monte Cristo.

Watch on that other blog of mine: https://aquaticstaticsings.wordpress.com/2017/07/07/7-07-17/

Friday, June 23, 2017

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Hot & Bothered

Any time Adam listens when Hannah is talking, it gets me...yeknow.






Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The Image of Saffiyah Khan




First off let’s face it, this is straight up hilarious - this Chihuahua of a man nipping at the ankles of human decency. You can just about hear his ridiculous yelps (like our ruling party’s goons but with an accent) growing more and more hysterical as the mistress of bindi stares him down. “Should I swat him now?…Now?” I imagine her wondering which Louis Vuitton handbag he leaped out of. Bigot want a biscuit?

Look at her power stance – does she walk around like that, with her body angled for battle, her back ramrod straight, chest out, neck stretched, face relaxed yet ready to get into just about anybody’s face? Is this her normal life-condition*? I slouch, always have. That’s my normal life-condition. I have a weak core. My back is sick & tired of being sick & tired.

When I was 12 there were two Chihuahuas that would accost us on the way to our school bus stop. I remember being terrified in anticipation before I stepped out of my house. I’d pray they wouldn’t be let loose on the street that morning. If I saw them scurrying to get at our ankles, I would panic and slouch-run across the road. Maybe if I’d known, like Saffiyah does, that Chihuahuas live in handbags, I wouldn’t have been so afraid.

By her own account, when the image was taken, Saffiyah Khan was protecting another woman who’d been surrounded “360” by the same yelping thugs. Reports have interpreted Khan’s demeanour as ‘unfazed’. That’s bullshit if you ask me. She had to have been fazed, most fazed. You don’t get to stand like that if you haven’t been similarly fazed time & time & time again. You get to a point where the fucking Chihuahua has barked at you one too many times and you’re like fuck it, if it even bares its toothpicky teeth in the direction of your ankles, you'll swoop down, scoop it up and lob it into the stratosphere before its keepers realise that their dildo-themed pet has gone missing.

One might ask, why didn’t you swoop & scoop before? Why did you endure years of intimidation at the hands of these canine hobbits? Can’t speak for Saffiyah but when I was 12 they seemed bigger. Everyone at our bus stop was afraid of them, even the 16 year olds. Over years, they’d acquired mythic status and the stories had been handed down from seniors to juniors. ‘Did you know they bit so-and-so and they had to amputate his foot?’ ‘Their owner is a tantric yogi. His dogs have secret powers.’ (Ok that one I made up, such was the terror unleashed by these unleashed beasts.)



Obviously I don’t know what Saffiyah Khan is really thinking in these images but to me she has become the Monalisa of pussy power. She has run out of fucks to give and this fuck-deficit has allowed her insight into the Chihuahua’s handbag world. Sure it’s Vuitton (and that’s nothing to scoff at) but it is, at the end of the day, a dank handbag, made even danker by dwarf-dog sweat. Does Saffiyah Khan find this realisation amusing? Or did the Chihuahua pee in the bag just a little, its stench reaching everyone’s nostrils? Is that why Saffiyah is smiling? 

I’m no longer haunted by the Chihuahua twins from my school days but I have new challenges. The apartment where I live comes with neighbours, whom I would term ‘distinctly asshole-ish’. I realized this the day I moved, when the movers decided to use the elevator to transport a heavy sofa up two floors. My neighbour stood at the entrance of the elevator and threatened to let loose Jack – her 350 kilo vicious-looking dog. She knew the men were terrified of Jack, they’d asked her to keep him leashed. But she didn’t like ‘those men’ using ‘her lift’ and she let Jack loose. I slouch-stepped in and blocked Jack in a friendly embrace. Jack was confused. The men laughed. He jumped again. I slouched towards him again. This time Jack’s tail went insane, whiplashing his human-shaped asshole. She yelled “JACK! No!!”. I held out my hand. Jack held out his paw. We shook like adults who had no beef with each other. As we retreated to our corners, the men grinned and I thanked god that Jack didn’t live in a handbag.



Check out this beautiful Twitter thread:





* Incidentally, her stance has been described as an “improbably calm stance – smiling, slumped shoulders, hands in pockets” – I view the image very differently.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Pocket Change

every time we meet
pieces of change fall from your pockets
getting entangled in sheets
dropping behind headboard
slipping under mattress & into pillowcase
when you leave I hunt for coins
collecting them in a jar
waiting for it to one day
be full