Archive for October 2, 2008

Of mice and pain

What do a snake, the thought of losing someone you love, a torture chamber and a horror movie have in common?

The fear they generate by the promise of infliction of pain they freely give out!

Imagine, therefore, a scenario in which something renders you invincible to the pains the look or thought of these objects triggers in you. A resistence to posion, a promise of immortality, an invisible cloak or an opportunity to be on the set when that scary movie was shot. The snake, the thought, the champer and the movie (who has thus far posed a threat to our existence, or to the ordered flow or our pretty little life) would change forms into an appearance of quite harmlessness, won’t they?. (Making the expression “All We Have to Fear is Fear Itself” sound more vague than ever.)

I fear mice above all animals. It doesn’t mean I’d simply walk by had I come face to face with a snake posing to strike. But my fear of mice is more real, since it’s a more immediate danger (living in a Condominum, Condominiums having all kinds of people, those people having all kinds of ideas on Sanitary), so i’m more afraid of a mouse than I am a snake.

I’m not sure if the fear of mice is inherent or acquired from all the wild stories I’ve been hearing all my life. Yet, I don’t remember a time I haven’t viewed the little brutes with terror. A mouse-shaped shadow is enough to make me jump like a cat on a hot tin roof. A fear none of the mice-friendly movies I watched helped in averting. Ratatoulie certainly made me believe “every rat has a potential”. Until, that is, the potential of the rat that co-rented my house, on a non-paying basis, seems to be chewing half of the “beQolo” I bought the previous evening, for two birr a piece, and leaving souvenirs on my kitchen table that wasn’t “tiQur azmud”.

The part of my house I saw a mouse poking her head out of is the part of my house I mentally yellow-tape, write “Off Limits” over and try never to cross. “It’s as if the house belongs more to her than it does to me”, I sometimes muse. I have ofcourse tried to do away with the little anti-Christ once. I bought a mouse trap from the shop next door. “Enough is enough!” I said resolutely “No more losing ground for a creature that weights less than my 10 fingers put together”. After taking almost half an hour to set the trap which almost bite off my finger, however, I found out that it wasn’t easy to go to sleep with a trap on mind.

I kept thinking of the poor creature that would be lured to the trap by the smell of food and the desire to sustain life. The nasty surprise she’d come across and her cry for help (that ugly noise they make when they are mating) tormented the heart even before it occured. An existentialist crisis immediately hit me. “Why is my life more important than this creature’s?” I asked, philosophically “And who gave me the right to spill blood when all the little maniac wanted to see is another day just like moi?!”. “Would I have liked to be treated as such by society’s giants?” I pressed on “a truth that should have actually made this mouse and I kindered spirits, as one sufferer to another, instead of a Tom & Jerry?!”

That story about their teeth, especially, made me want to weep for the poor mindless buggar. So ofcourse I undid the trap. “Let this serve her as a warning” I said, shaking the finger at no one in particular, “I’ll let her keep her life as long as she kept to her boundaries. If she doesn’t, I’d get a vicious cat and let loose on her. Better clean up after a cat than have your face half eaten by a mouse.”

If only I could see the fear the mouse triggers, of whom Jerome K. Jerome said “no horror story is completely without”, and the mouse itself apart, the utensils rotting away in my kitchen cabinet would have served the purpose they were bought for. But I couldn’t. The minute I saw its tiny head creeping out of the back of my kitchen cabinet, I imagine sharp teeth attacking my face and I start skipping. I skip, and skip and skip trying to shake an imaginary creature off my back. No amount of “It’s the pain that is the shit. The mouse isn’t the shit” would help bring the heart-rate down to 75 bpm.

It makes me laugh afterwards, ofcourse. “What a freakish work of art man is” I may say, borrowing an expression from Shakespear and adding fitting details. But it also makes me wonder. Wonder why knowledge and emotions always seem “hodna jerba”. And ask if all the things we are afraid of, those fears that are more real and immediate than mice attacks friends and foes alike trigger in us (fears of failure, of rejection, of judgement and innumerable things) were .. even .. real.

For now, though,

Sleep tight,
and don’t let the bed bugs bite

October 2, 2008 at 11:10 am Leave a comment


The blogger tries to think outside the box, or wonder why she sometimes can't.

Life quote:

"I will speak for you, Father. I speak for all mediocrities in the world. I am their champion. I am their patron saint." - Antonio Salieri, from the movie "Amadeus"

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