Wednesday, 1 April 2020

老鼠过街,人人喊打 ...Ms Mouse

I stepped into the kitchen late last night and disturbed a mouse at its dinner. Or was it a rat? I’m not too sure. When does a boat become a ship? a pond a lake? a mouse a rat? This was either a stout mouse or a slender rat, and I’d rather think of it — of her — as a mouse, if you don’t mind.
I was startled. After all, I’d just been right next door in our lounge, listening to music. No doubt making the snuffling, the wheezing, the occasionally flatulent sounds of any man in his eighth decade, believing himself alone. And yet Ms Mouse had been there feeding.
Startled, I uttered an “Oh” which I realise on reflection was the sort of Oh one might utter in embarrassment at, say, having inadvertently disturbed a couple in the throes of lovemaking. As if it were my fault.
Ms mouse seemed to sense this, for she left promptly but not with the speed I would have thought appropriate to our relative status in the house, me as the owner and lord of the kitchen, a large Homo sapiens, and she a freeloading Mus muculus, barely the size of a mini baguette.
She scampered from the sink, where it seems she’d been feasting on specks of leftover spinach and bits of bamboo shoot stuck in the strainer, scuttled over the kitchen table, down my handmade folding kitchen chair, across the floor, and then right up the floor length handle of the fridge, over the top of the fridge and into the blackness beyond, no doubt to rejoin her family. She’s seeing parts of the house I’ve never seen and will never see. And she’s now with her family, I thought. What does she tell them, this Squeaky Fromme the blackness?
She’s our little housemate, says J when I tell her the next morning. And I agree. No need for too much concern. She doesn’t carry the plague, or even coronavirus. She consumes a few food scraps. She leaves no mess. Let her be.

The Chinese in the subject line above is lao shu guo jie ren ren han da. Literally: “When the rat crosses the street everyone shouts to beat it”. Figuratively: Everyone hates a low life. But is Ms Mouse’s life low? She’s living the life of a small successful modern mammal. Unlike our larger mammal, Basil the dog, who also shares our space, she demands no food no walks no vet fees. No love even. Just the turning of a blind eye.
A reader comments:

I enjoyed reading this very much Peter .
I laughed at the image of this man in his eighth decade startling Ms Mouse at her clandestine feast of spinach and bamboo .
Of course she's not afraid of the Lord of the kitchen (no matter how large ) bcos i suspect she senses he has a kind heart and if she plays her cards right he will let her come regularly for food.
Mice are quite sociable and quite clever aren't they?
You have encapsulated her existence delightfully.
I love the way you see her , unobtrusive, undemanding, harmless. Seeking nothing other than food.
Low Life ? No
Just living her life.
Both letting each other be..