My Friend Ralph S. Mouse

When I was kid, I thought it would be incredible to have a mouse as a friend. Of course this was after I read the books about Ralph S. Mouse. Having adventures together while riding a toy motorcycle wearing a ping-pong ball helmet. What’s not to love?

I’m here to tell you, it’s not fun in real life.

You make certain concessions when you live in a mud hut. You don’t have electricity, you have candles. You don’t have running water, you fetch it from a well a la Jack and Jill. You don’t have carpet, you have cement. You don’t have comfortable couches to sit on, you have hard hunks of wood carved into a stool-like shape. And you have critters.

There is nothing you can really do to keep everything outside since you are basically living outside. I’ve had one snake inside my house and several others outside. I’ve had termites raining from the ceiling during the height of the rainy season. I’ve had spiders catch and eat cockroaches. (It’s why I don’t kill the spiders Mom!) I’ve had a bat living underneath my bed. I was fine with all of those things but Ralph S. Mouse is killing me.

Ralph S. Mouse likes to perform his (or her, I’m not sure) hi-jinxes at night. And loudly. I’m a very heavy sleeper but he has been waking me up every single night this month. Its starting to get to me. I’m used to getting a solid 10 (if not 12) hours of sleep every night. Ralph is really cutting in to my sleeping pattern!

And he is eating everything!

It started with a single water flavor packet. Ralph pulled it out of the container I keep them in because I didn’t put the lid on tight. Fine. I didn’t like that flavor much anyway.

Ralph got into the container the next night and chewed open half of my favorite Crystal Light cherry pomegranate water flavor packets. I’m mad. But I still had a bunch left. There are starving people in the world, who also happen to be my neighbors, so not really a big deal in the grand scheme of things. I remedied the situation by putting all my water flavor packets, along with my tea and coffee, into a bigger plastic container with a lid that snaps shut. Problem solved.

If only I were so lucky.

Ralph starts chewing on the plastic lid to try and eat his way into the container. Ok. I’ll put everything in the containers in plastic bags as well.

He found some green tea bags that I forgot were out. Whatever. I’m just annoyed at this point but won’t do anything about it. He can do his thing, I’ll do mine.

Ralph decided to up the ante and show off his Houdini-like climbing skills.

He ate my onion. That was in a basket. Hanging from the ceiling by string. I’m still not sure how he got there. But he did. This basket was ingeniously designed by yours truly to keep said vermin away from my precious fresh veg. He still ate my onion. I didn’t even know that a mouse would eat an onion. INSANE!!!!!

I have cleaned everything in my house. He ate the seeds I was going to use for my garden. He ate my plastic grocery bags that I use for trash. Everything and anything I thought he might be tempted by has been put in a ziploc bag and then into a plastic container.

He ate the lid off my butter container. Luckily for me, he didn’t fully succeed and my butter is still safely inside. Now I have to find a plastic container to put my butter container in. This is exhausting!

I washed my dishes and notice the plastic handle to the one ‘sharp’ knife I own is chewed off. At least I can still sort of cut things.

I find the plastic lid to my back-up instant coffee is half way gone. At least Ralph likes coffee!

Every night I get woken up to the sounds of scurrying and chewing. Every morning I wake up, put on my coffee, and try to find what has been yet another casualty of Ralph S. Mouse antics.

My non-existent strategy needs to find a focus. Cleaning isn’t solving anything. I think its time for the big guns. A Zambian.

It might be a mistake but I have run out of options. To fully understand my hesitation, I have to explain a bit about how Zambians generally operate. Nothing is an emergency. It takes days to accomplish anything. Which is usually fine. I have all the time in the world here just like Zambians. But the rats are eating everything I own! Time is not on my side. (And I have recently discovered that yes, there is more than one.)

After I discovered that the rats are eating my Old Navy flip flops, I decided it was time to complain. I usually don’t complain because I know it won’t get fixed as fast as I would want it to. I learn to adapt and live with things. (A bat living under my bed for several months says it all!) Or I fix them my crazy American way which my bataata says isn’t fixing it properly. But I can’t fix this problem myself. So I complained. Days ago. And I’ve complained every day since.

Finally my bamaama yelled at my bataata to put the poison in my house before the rats start eating my clothes. Well, that is a comforting thought. They will eat my clothes????!!!! Leave it to my bamaama to get things done! I should have asked her in the first place! My bataata was roasting pumpkin seeds and corn kernels to pound and mix with the poison before I knew what was happening! Action! YES!!! Finally!!!!!! The traps were laid and I was very excited to finally get a good night’s sleep!

“Do you hear chirps and squeaks in your house at night?” BaWesley asked me as he was mixing the poison.
“Yeah. It’s bats right?” I replied.
“No. It is a rat. Those type of rats are hard to get rid of. Especially if they move into the roof of your house. They eat everything. I think that is what is in your house.”
“Great. I’ve heard that noise for weeks now,” I said while thinking to myself, what else have they eaten that I haven’t discovered yet?
“Don’t worry. We will get rid of them,” he said reassuringly.

I’m not reassured.

My house smells like Corn Nuts but the rats are eating the poison! I should have been reassured!

Hopefully this will get rid of them for good. The next step will be mixing dry cement with the pounded pumpkin and corn kernels. I hope for the rats’ sake that they take the poison and die peacefully. No one wants death by cement.

2 days later.

My bedroom smells like death. The oh-too-familiar smell of a decaying animal. And its getting worse. Armed with my flashlight, I start the search and there it is. Under my plastic shelves. And because my bamaama loves me, she got rid of it.

Ralph S. Mouse is no more and hopefully his friends got the message. I need the sleep!

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