“through the act of living, the discovery of oneself is made concurrently with the discovery of the world around us. . ."

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Burial

Today I dug two graves,
One for a Funambulus palmarum
Another for a Rattus ranjiniae;
In plainspeak
A Palm Squirrel and a Kerala Rat.

Retracing my thought-steps -
I was amused, still am,
To learn of a species, the Kerala Rat
and chuckled at the thought of the teeming
millions of it subspecies, the Rattus hominicus malayalensis,
In plainspeak, me and my fellow malayalees!

Both were the victims, prey to the great
Hunters at home, Sancho and Sally.
As Sancho proudly brought in the fat rat
and dropped it at my feet, wagging his tail
and panting and grinning and looking up at me
for approval and that special pat on his forehead
I learned that Sally had killed the baby squirrel -
she had chewed it up proper
But she slunk away at my sight
Instinctively knowing that I disapproved.

In the morning as I dug the graves
Sancho strolled over and supervised
Sally kept a respectful distance.

Throwing soil over the pits
I wonder why we love squirrels and hate the rats
Both rodents, sharing a common lineage, so to say.

I looked at the carcasses, not much different they were
Except for the bushy tail and three-striped coat that the squirrel had.
Looking at it, I remembered how badly I wanted to keep a pet squirrel long ago
And fibbing about it, my fantasy squirrel, the one I carried to school in my pocket
the one who ate and slept with me and then for a tragic twist, how he got caught by a crow.
I remembered those whom I had saved and then let go, I remembered the feel of the soft fur.

Turning aside, gazing at the pitiable fat rat, now Late,
Looking at its bristling rough coat and whiplike tail
Looking so loathsome, I took a moment to think
of the dozens of its kin I have killed, poisoned, smacked on the head.

I wonder why I love the squirrel and
Hate the rat.
Something more than the looks, the bushy tail
Something more than the timidity, the playfulness
that you see in the squirrel and not in the rat.

Look at him/her, smart, bold,slinking away in the darkness
Tipping pots and pans over, stealing, biting the bananas
Ruining the stock of grains, the leftover food
And the trail of feces contemptuously left.

Looking at the squirrel and the rat, both dead
I felt uncomfortable
Thinking how similar is the feeling that I have
For the many Homo sapiens sapiens I know.

*********** Balachandran V, Trivandrum, 24.02.2013


  1. Mixed emotions Balan. Only you can weave magic with words. There is so much going on here. Survival of the fittest, selection of species, favoritism to one and hatred to another. And that applies to our fellow human beings.

    May the rat and the squirrel RIP. Its Sanchos and Sally game, the rat's and squirrel's fate, and Balan's reflection :)

  2. Dear Balan Sir: Please accept the Liebster Award I have forwarded to you. Kindly check out my latest post for more info.

    Warm regards,

  3. @Insignia: The difference I guess, B, is that while the squirrel leads its life without impinging on ours, the rat doesn't. It marauds our homes, it encroaches into our territory, it is a parasite. The Squirrel squeaks sitting up on the mango tree, runs through the wire like a gymnast, mates with its mate in the open! :-) Whereas the rat - it skulks. While the squirrel holds its head high, the rat creeps with head bowed.

    Personally I wouldn't might the rat if it kept to itself.

  4. @insignia: Personally I wouldn't MIND...

  5. The partiality is because the rats are a hindrance in our house, whereas the squirrels without caring humans go on with their routines.Man hates all the creatures that encroaches into his house,not only rats and they are all disturbances to him.The poetical part is very alluring.


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