Rats. I hate rats. Which is not to say that I freak out whenever I see them, but I loathe them with a passion. Those disgusting filthy vermins really need to be annihilated like cockroaches, although I much prefer roaches because in just one swing of a hand together with a powerful 1,000
A few days ago I went into some sort of immersion with my friend along the road less traveled in
It was a dingy alien territory, but far much inhabitable than other places I’ve seen in the Tondo area, for instance. The tapered winding roads would occasionally have cracks and potholes, which were the very conditions not favorable for car enthusiasts. We took a tricycle going to the designated vicinity where my friend is supposed to collect health information from at least 30 residents. I asked him why we don’t just get the records from the Barangay Hall; he said that he needed first hand information because those records are probably outdated. He warned me about bag and cellphone snatchers. “Itago mo ‘yang remote control mo,” referring to my humongous Communicator. “Even if you really can’t help it, ‘wag mong ipakita na nandidiri ka,” he croaked. “Hoy, mas maarte ka sa’kin. Nandidiri ka nga sa dugo, nursing student ka pa man din,” I retorted with full conviction.
We arrived at The Place and much to my surprise it was cleaner than what I had envisioned. Okay, it wasn’t so neat and chic for it was still shabby, but it’s tolerable. Houses were like town houses juxtaposed to each other, most of which having second floor levels and a dinky sari-sari store in the first floor. Occasionally there were dog poop – some still fresh and some fossilized – strewn along the narrow alley, which was the designated playpen of the children. A little over 15 meters from the main road was a junk shop. My friend and I traversed the way towards the junk shop, and with the help of two Barangay officials we collected 30 individuals and conducted the survey inside the shop’s premises.
The people were very nice even if most of them were not familiar with the word deodorant – or toothbrush. I had a conversation with a woman in her late 20’s and she kept apologizing about the situation of their place. She added that her family is a native of Cebu, and discontented with their life there they flew to Manila thinking they could have a much easier lifestyle only to find out that Manila is harsher and “parang walang awa” (merciless) to poor people like her. “Hindi kami makabalik sa Cebu kasi mahal ang pamasahe,” she told me. My friend was busy asking the mothers of the children about family histories and such. I was busy trying hard not to inhale as much bad air as possible.
About twenty, thirty minutes had passed when I felt that my feet were poising a sit down strike, so I went to find something to lean on. I found this not-so empty space near a bunch of scrap metals and dismembered parts of electrics fans and rusty car parts and since my feet were starting to kill me I hovered and raised my left foot a bit on a car radiator. Scarcely had I relaxed my foot when I felt a little tugging in the right part of my pants, the one left standing. I thought that my pants were hooked by one of those scrap materials so I jerked my right leg. Only to find out that the tugging persisted, and the horrible thing was I started to sense little claws crawling towards my leg. A small rat mistook my hairy leg for a pole! I shook my right leg violently pulling up my pants to see where the abominable creature had gone. I saw the filthy organism fleeing its way towards a crevice of a house, passing by my shoes without excusing itself. Eewww. How gross can it get? I immediately whipped out my alcohol and marinated my right leg fearing an apocalyptic event: What if the rat left trails of urine on my leg?
I quickly left the place where I stayed and rushed over to broadcast the petrifying incident to my friend who was then gulping a bottle of softdrink. For some streak of parallelism he told me a similar story happened to him. He was gathering his notebooks, papers, and stuff and when he was about to stash everything he felt something odd inside his bag. A soft and furry sort of thing was rummaging through the bag’s side pocket. When he opened the latch he saw a brown rat shrieking in obvious horror upon seeing my friend – naah, it was him who squealed. He atrociously beat his bag trying to exorcise the presence of the rat, which was successful for it scurried away. He fondly remembered how the rat smelled like hell – he said it was unimaginable.
We seriously have to think of ways how to destroy and wipe out the entire rodent population even if it seems so trivial; to paraphrase a line in The Catcher in the Rye, it’s like planning to erase all the “Fuck you” signs in the world. If I’m not mistaken, the population density of rats in India is higher than those of human inhabitants. Eewww. Gross. Note to the rats: You shall never achieve world domination. Mark my words.