On life and its vagaries

Killing something

with 15 comments

The house I grew up in the country side is an old red sandstone building.  It had a tiled roof and was the natural habitat of all kinds of rodents, lizards and spiders. As children we learned to coexist with them. They paid scant respect to us and went about their business undaunted day and night. My father used to roam the house at night with all kinds of rat traps and other mechanisms to kill them. The mother would wail at the destruction caused by the rodent population to our property.

The rats were more intelligent than us and rarely fell for the traps set by father. The curious thing was that the pieces of coconut and jaggery placed to induce them to enter the traps would be not there in the morning but the springs and doors of the traps would remain as they were set. In effect my poor father was feeding them every night.

Mother and we used to laugh at the industry of father in the night. He had a firm belief that he could trap them in the end. Someone had suggested poison but my mother vetoed it forever. There were children in the house she said and killing something by poisoning is the worst of sins. Also there was the possibility of the rats jumping into the well attached to the house and defiling the water in search of water after being poisoned.

There were a few cats and dogs in the house, they showed a healthy respect for the rodents and would keep out of their way. They were fed well by us otherwise and did not need old hunting skills to survive.

New holes and gaps would appear out of nowhere and there would be eerie sounds at night from all over the house.  We had some cultivating fields then. My father was a town bred and educated man and had never heard of farming before he took over the mother’s house in the countryside. But then he got interested in agriculture.  The return from it was ludicrous considering the expenses involved. But we had good unadulterated food all through the year thanks to fathers farming efforts.

The produce, mostly rice would be stored in giant wooden rooms inside the house. This was the main source of food of the rodents. If these were empty they would attack the kitchen en masse. They had no timidity at all and would even run through our feet if needed. There would be screeches from my sisters and mother in that event.

All this is in the past and my father is no more. We all grew up, got employed and moved away from the house. Now my mother is staying there alone with a few retainers to help her. We would visit her once in a month and would stay in our old rooms. Mine was on the second floor of the three storied building. It still would tell the tale of my struggles with the world of letters.

In my recent visit to the old house I was reclining in my room when my mother came into it chasing a rat. It was mid morning and I could see the rat was beautiful. It had a golden skin and was shivering all over. It was a young rat and was only learning the tricks of his trade. It ran behind my old writing pad which was left leaning on one wall.

Mother was scolding the rat and was complaining that it had sawed through all the plumbing in the house. She ordered me to kill it and gave me the flat piece of wood she was carrying. Now I had this great aversion for killing anything. I had even let snakes go by without harming them. I tried to stall for time and kick the rat out of the hiding place.  But mother was incensed; she had repaired the plumbing several times and every time this little rat would appear to destroy it.

When I hesitated she questioned my masculinity.  Even she is better she said, if she was not out of breath running up the stairs she would have finished it off. The rat was still hiding behind the writing pad. It was made of thick wood and was three by five feet in breadth.

My heart cringed at the thing I was going to do but my mother was riling me without stop. In anger I rose and kicked the writing pad smack on to the wall it was leaning to. The rat was trapped between it and the wall and immediately died. There was some blood on the wall and the back of the pad and in its mouth.

As I stood looking at the beautiful body of the dead rat I felt very sorry. Mother was pleased and called the girl doing house work to take it away and bury it. I felt depressed. I imagined myself in the place of the rat, what if some giant thing crushes me like that. In a moment a life was over. It took only one kick on my part.

Do we have any rights over other animals to decide their fates like this? Should we preserve ourselves at the expenses of other species?

I am still confused. What do you think?


Written by Sam

August 2, 2009 at 6:07 pm

15 Responses

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  1. Yes, I found you after all! I enjoyed your tale. I have to admit that I have hardened my heart against the slugs and snails which will devastate my plants. I do kill them,very quickly so that they do not even notice passing from this world into the next – if slugs do that! I also believe humans are made to be omnivorous, (look at the tooth structure) therefore it is OK to kill and eat animals, but as humanely as possible.


    August 2, 2009 at 8:51 pm

  2. Oh people kill all kinds of things in these parts too. It’s inevitable in a way. We can’t let slugs, snails, rats and other insects ruin what we are doing. But my reaction to killing has nothing to do with the rational part in me, it’s an emotional thing, I have always felt this reluctance in me. It is something ingrained and may be the result of other births (If we could consider such a possibility)

    You are right too, when killing, doing it instantly could be the proper way to go about it. People say that these are the lower forms of life evolving into finer forms. If that is true we may even be helping them to progress.

    I am glad that you liked my post; I wouldn’t dare to call it a proper story though. Writing is hard, you should know it, you write beautifully. I am just feeling my way.


    August 3, 2009 at 2:21 pm

    • Hi Silva,
      I actually have a dilemma, yes another one! My writing always starts with a prayer, asking for help on a particular subject. I always get an answer, and usually the answer comes from a person who lets me see them for a moment, eg a guru, a nun, an African medicine man, A North American Indian, or just an ordinary person who has some experience of the problem I am asking about, as in my stories about abuse and abandonment. I am sure you are right when you say that all writers get help from ‘other sources’, whether they know it or not. I never know what is coming in the way of the story, as it unfolds, always quickly. I never edit. My dilemma is that I am now reading the Bible and it says that all mediumship and ‘spiritists’ should be avoided. In fact in the Old Testament it says that they should be killed…. I have not set up as a medium to advise people of their future, etc. But I wonder what a modern ‘thinking Christian’ would say.
      My stories are all positive and helpful. Maybe they would say that that is irrelevant….. Tessa

      tessa moss

      August 5, 2009 at 12:18 pm

      • You are doing great as a writer. I believe all good writers get inspiration from sources external to themselves. There are subtle forces at work to guide all creative efforts. In your case its very real and clear. In some other’s case it might be subtle and unnoticeable. But there such guiding forces. I am sure of that.
        No one would say that your stories are irrelevant. There can not be any question about that.


        August 5, 2009 at 5:13 pm

      • Thank you for your reply. I had not thought of you as belonging to a particular religion, other than probably Hindu, from your lovely picture. There is great wisdom in your writing and your reply is exactly what I am inclined to think.

        I look forward to your next story. I find them well constructed, sensitive and amusing; very good descriptions of what was going on. I can just see you and your mother at loggerheads over the rat! Tessa

        I will try to post something soon. Thank you for the inspiring words.

        tessa moss

        August 5, 2009 at 6:06 pm

      • the last one too went above this last comment you wrote on 5/8


        September 18, 2009 at 12:35 pm

      • Dear Trisha

        What was it all about. Did I try to get on your nerve or did you try to get on my nerve? After the caps problem I learned a bit more WordPress and managed to place the comments in proper order. But really what were you discussing about?

        Anyway its funny and I am delighted with effect 🙂

        Post Script:

        Well I get what you mean Trisha. I tried to post the comment repeatedly and it came up over your last one. This was what bothering you is it? This only occurs with the last comment.The problem seems to be that we need to click on the link saying “replay” under the comment instead of posting in the blank box below directly. It solved the problem for me.


        September 19, 2009 at 5:43 pm

  3. i have read somewhere mint works wonder against mices.. they dont frequent places where an ample amount of mint is piled.. now i dont know how much!

    yes, i too would have hated to kill it..


    September 7, 2009 at 4:52 pm

  4. I can’t say Trisha if peppermint would do it, for we had it in some quantity back then and the rats came even then. But it is worth giving a shot.

    I am glad that you share my sentiment. .


    September 7, 2009 at 6:45 pm

  5. you bet.. i can sometimes get on the nerve of men.. 🙂


    September 18, 2009 at 12:33 pm

    • What were you talking of? I was not looking at this post recently. So I saw your comment just now


      September 19, 2009 at 5:24 pm

  6. how come my comment was placed above your last comment.. 🙂 MAGIC!!!


    September 18, 2009 at 12:34 pm

    • You must have clicked the reply link in the above comment


      September 19, 2009 at 5:25 pm

  7. yesssssssssssssssssssssssssssss i finally did it.


    September 18, 2009 at 12:36 pm

    • Nooooooooooooooooooooooo I dont get it 🙂


      September 19, 2009 at 5:26 pm

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