The Rat Came Back

The Indonesian word tikus has always sent shivers down my spine. It translates to rat – or field mouse. A common enough rodent in these parts, especially if you find yourself (as I now do) living on the edge of rice fields. Over the years I’ve seen postings on the various Facebook community pages, expats deploring the state of their villas, aghast at the rodents in their midst, sleepless in Seminyak and elsewhere. Apparently, it’s now my turn to face the music.

When I first moved, there was no sign of him anywhere. Then, although I didn’t meet him, he left enough breadcrumb-like tracks and clues that I could no longer ignore the telltale signs. I asked around, yes on Facebook but of others too: What do I do??

First I asked Made my landlord. He was busy. Then I asked Wayan his brother. Finally, I asked Ibu Dayu, my pembantu (helper). I didn’t want to poison the little bugger, but I wanted him gone. We agreed that it was worth getting a trap – he’d stay alive and I’d ask someone to dispose of him a few kilometers away.

DSC07529That’s what happened. At least I thought it was. With a piece of fresh fish as bait draped from the hook inside, said tikus was fair game. The following morning there he was; my first catch (of the day.) I cringed. Then I called Wayan. He drove over, picked up the trap and promised to dispose of the squirmy little thing a few kilometers north. I believed him.

I may never know where exactly Wayan did open that trap – it might have been in the field across the road. But what I do know – and have since learned – is this: tikus have radar.

Darn that little bugger: The rat came back! A couple of days ago. How do I know it’s the same little bugger? Easy. Same M.O. Last night, I bought fresh fish, set up the trap on the kitchen counter and went to bed.

A little rattling sound early this morning alerted me to his unwanted (but expected) presence. As I snuck out and around the corner to the kitchen area, I saw that his overnight struggle to free himself landed him (in the trap, of course) on the floor. Poor bugger.

What to do now? He found his way back, so what chance did I have to kick him out for good?I pushed the trap outside with my foot, landing it on the terrace. I needed to think this through. I walked up to the pool for a swim. When I arrived, I saw Pak Nyoman. What, I asked him, should I do?? He expounded on the finer points of de-ratting one’s home, the Balinese way.

We kill them, he said nonchalantly.Really? How?

Different ways, Nyoman continued. Poison. A gun. Or water.

Water? I asked.

Then he used hand gestures to explain that tikus die by drowning.

I caved in. I swam a gazillion laps, walked home, changed clothes, packed up some stuff (heading out to a friend), buckled up my sandals, filled up a pail on the terrace, locked the door, grabbed my helmet and purse, and then with my body shaking, muttering a quick prayer of forgiveness – and a fervent hope that my karma would not be damaged by the imminent act of torture – I picked up the trap handle with the far end of a squeegee mop, and dunked said rat into the vat.

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