Fiction

Curiosity almost killed the Rat – I

Gunnu was jumping on the parapet, peeping into the bin, looking for Deepu, his cousin and best friend. All of a sudden, he noticed a cat, hiding behind the wall. Gunnu shouted “Deepu! Deepu!! Run. The big cat is here” and saying so, he ran and hid in a hole near the bin.

But, Deepu mistook his shouts and came out of his hole, chasing his cousin. The cat was waiting for such an opportunity, he attacked his ignorant prey, smothered him in a jiffy and gulped him down. He licked his whiskers, meowed sweetly and walked away, quite satisfied with his tasty meal.

Gunnu was the lone witness of this ruthless murder. He was shaking with fear, unable to comprehend that Deepu, was no more. The death was a strange new word for him. Though he had heard his parents talk in a hush-hush tone about the demise of his uncle, a month ago in similar fashion.

Gunnu was the youngest in his large extended family of Papa, Mummy, Didi, Bhaiyya, Chacha, Chachi, Mama and Mami. Everyone was fond of him and they used to give him the juiciest portions of the food they could partake from the hotel’s backyard.

A year before Gunnu was born, Papa had moved into this backyard of ‘Hotel Luxury’ with his brothers and in-laws. Theirs was the first family to move in here. Since there was no competition, food was abundant. They used to eat only the tastiest left-overs, leaving the rest untouched. The sweeper used to grumble at the amount of garbage he had to pick up from this place, and that too tasty high quality food which is an ill-afforded luxury for many in India.

But as time passed, the story of backyard traveled far and many other families of rodents, cockroaches and rats migrated in there. Even, three cats emerged from nowhere to pounce on any careless mouse. Only last month, Gunnu’s mama was picked by the cats while he was roaming near the front yard. Ever since, there was tension in the mouse family.

And today, Gunnu was also exposed to the heart wrenching cruel killing of his best friend, and his death affected Gunnu badly. He remained depressed for three hours. He was now left alone, there was no joy in jumping about or sliding down the nallah or to play hide and seek, without Deepu’s company.

Gunnu was moving around aimlessly, when he stepped into some soft, strange looking , brightly colored piece of cloth. He touched it with his whiskers, tried to chew it into pieces. But, the new object had great strength, he could not bite into it, nor did it bend in anyway. God has bestowed the kids with a very short memory for pain and as soon as Gunnu discovered the new distraction, he forgot all about Deepu and played excitedly with his new prized possession.

His papa told him that the cloth must be a part of a silken cap. It was the newest fashion in the town, to wear in a party and he went on to tell Gunnu about the glamourous parties being held in the Hotel Luxury, where everyone wears beautiful clothes, eats lots of tasty dishes, while dancing among the highly decorated hall, adorned with multi colored festoons and balloons.

Gunnu lay in his bed and tossed around thinking dreamily about the party, his papa had just described. He continued to raid his mummy with a thousand questions regarding the celebrations in the hotel. And, his mummy, in an ungaurded moment, told him that one such party was being arranged in the hotel, this evening itself.

But then, she realised that her kid may try to get into the hotel and land into some trouble. She warned him of the impending dangers lurking inside, particularly the haughty guard, who was notorious for killing any rat or cockroach that dared to enter the hotel’s kitchen or any other room. She was apprehensive about her son’s safety and instructed him sternly, not to leave his bed.

But, Gunnu had already made up his mind. He promised his mother that he won’t try anything foolish, however, he was quite excited to see a party.

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