Tuesday, December 08, 2009

There's been an uneasy feeling in the house since I came back from Cracow.
A sound of scrabbling in the walls. A sense of being under siege.
And then last thursday I came up to the kitchen and met a rat. A big one.
We looked at each other in mutual fear and loathing a moment and then the rat scuttled off behind the fridge.
Since then the feeling of being under siege has intensified.
The night before last the rat was gnawing away at the wainscoting at the top of the stairs; and the noise was unbearable. About 2am i started banging with my shoe wherever I heard the creature moving.
There were showing a horrible film on the TV that was using horror movie language to portray the Marquis de Sade in his asylum.
I felt like someone in a horror movie: threatened by monstrous creatures preparing to burst in through the walls.
And then yesterday the rat man came.
He was a cheerful man. They all seem to be. One difference, however, was that he was wearing a shirt and tie. Perhaps the profession is having a makeover.
"I enjoy the job" he told me. "It's good fun".
He flung bags of poison in strategic places and left me with his bill.
Soon afterwards an old student of mine came who wanted my advice about a film he is about to make.
And then we heard it: the rustling of a plastic bag. Just under one of the kitchen units.
I told him it was a rat eating poison.
And I said sorry to the rat when my friend was gone.
I had become uneasily aware of the Buddhist injunction not to harm the life of another living creature.
Curious how even so apparently simple a moral command is also so complicated. That should preserve us from complacency and arrogance.
And as I heard it munching away I was aware too of the proximity of two worlds: the acceptable one on the surface. the chaos and the filth underneath.


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