The rat, the hammock and memories
Today, I saw a mouse stuck in a trap. It was a small mouse; about half the size of a thumb. It was a humane trap. One that didn’t kill the mouse with a metal snap, but simply used glue to render the mouse immobile. The mouse doesn’t die instantly. It starves to death. It seems starvation is more humane.
One afternoon, when I was young and innocente, I lay with mi madre on a red hammock enjoying a rare summer breeze. When I lay in the hammock with mi madre, nothing was wrong with the world.
There suddenly was a commotion and I saw several of my cousins run with broom handles. There had been a trespasser.
I stood up to go and see, but mi madre held me back.
“El Guapo, stay here.”
Mama, I want to see what they’re doing.
“El Guapo, stay here with your madre. It’s a rat. They caught a rat. They’re going to get rid of it.”
I want to see mama!
My cousins. My older cousins. I didn’t want them to have any fun without me. At this, I escaped the grasp of my mother and ran to see my cousins jump around with their broom handles.
When I got closer, I saw the rat trapped in the corner among some shrubs that never really gave life. The rat went back and forth, wall to wall, side to side as the broom handles muffled the ground.
I will never forget when the rat made eye contact with me. It was only for a split moment, but there was eye contact. It was look. An almost human look. A look that asked why I wasn’t doing anything to stop this. I didn’t know. I didn’t know what was going to happen.
Just as quickly as I got the look, one of my cousins pressed the broom handle against the rat’s stomach and it squealed. It squealed and tensed up around the circular handle in a way that I have never seen before. It cranked its head up and squealed. It bit the handle with such force that it momentarily eased the pressure. It squealed a squeal that resonates in mi mind to this day. My body became cold and I took a step back as I looked at the smiling faces of my cousins.
Then, just as quickly as I escaped my mother’s grasp, I ran back to it. She had been watching me from the hammock. When our eyes met, she knew that I had seen pain and suffering. I had seen what mothers shield. I jumped into the red hammock and cried in my mother’s arms.
“Shhhhhh, Shhhhhh, Shhhhhh, it’s ok El Guapo. Mama is here. Shhhh, Shhhh, Shhhh.”
The look. I never did anything to help. I didn’t know. I didn’t know.
Today, however, I knew. I ripped open the paper trap and poured vegetable oil on the glue, dissolving it. The mouse was weak, not moving, but it came to. I took it outside and it disappeared amongst the bushes.
I know that it will never make the memory go away. Bad memories are meant to remain. I just hope happier ones will overshadow them.