Encounter with the king of rats – Part 2
Then some questions bugged his mind: “What on earth does a rat want in my room? How would the rat cope with poverty? Or how would it cope with a poor man without a job? What would it eat in my room?”
Bedebe himself had not eaten since morning and the time was now 1:00p.m. The last meal he took was corn and groundnuts (guguru and epa in Yoruba), which he bought and ate the previous day as lunch from the money given to him by a kind neighbour that had pity on him. This rat, he concluded, had entered the wrong room.
Then, he drew a comparison between himself and the rat. He was thin and gaunt, while the rat was plump, fresh and robust. That was the irony of life.
Bedebe was a miser by nature, despite being poor. He surely knew that the rat was unfortunate to have entered his room. But on a second thought, he was happy that he now had company, albeit a rat. He heaved a sigh of relief.
If the whole world suddenly deserted him simply because he was poor, at least he could now hear the squeaking noises of this unfortunate rat in his room at regular intervals. Beggars should have relatives; they must have siblings and families, because they didn’t create themselves.
Three days later, Bedebe was completely broke and hungry. He went to beg from a neighbour living next door, who, out of pity, lent him N100, which he used to buy a loaf of bread immediately and took inside his room to eat. He ate just a little out of the bread and drank four cups of water to wash it down.
Some minutes later, he felt like sleeping. He put the remaining loaf of bread on his table and slept off. About an hour later, he woke up, only to discover that the rat in his room had eaten a huge chunk of the bread.
“Gosh! What?” he exclaimed. “My bread!” he thundered. “Grrr, I’ll make sure I punish this nosy rat. I’ll starve it to death,” he murmured angrily.
That day, he vowed to show the rat his other side. And from that particular day, whenever he ate bread, he would instantly take his broom and sweep the floor clean that the rat would not be able to find any crumbs on the floor to eat.
He packed some magazines and old newspapers in his room out of the reach of the rat, because he knew rats were rodents that could eat virtually anything, papers inclusive. Everyday, Bedebe took to tidying up his room whenever he ate anything. If he were fortunate to eat rice, he would make sure no single grain fell on the floor, and if it did, he would pick it up immediately and sweep the floor clean.
Bread was his favourite meal. Bedebe was now cautious and careful whenever he ate bread, he would never allow the tiniest crumbs to fall. And after eating, he would use the broom to sweep off any particles that littered the floor and put them in a plastic dustbin outside his room.
If he couldn’t finish the bread, he would take the remaining loaf, wrap it cleverly in a black cellophane bag and hang it with a rope to the ceiling, so that the rat in his room wouldn’t be able to reach it.