The Days Of The Rat - Poem by Rajesh Thankappan
Those were the days when the rats thought themselves strong
Creating fear among the animals living around.
They ordered the camels through deserts and storm
And saddled horses and rode them long.
Entering kennels they frightened the dogs
Who cringed to the walls terrified and shell- shocked.
They invaded the eyries' of birds flying high
Those poor birds then never dared to dive.
But once on a full moon night an elephant kicked a rat
And on the following day his friends supported his act.
The rats in retaliation declared a war
Which was to commence with the sighting of the star. (i.e. the planet
The evening grew tense when the war trumpets were blown
And rats in thousands came out strong.
They ravaged the jungles where the elephants stayed
And found to their surprise that none of them strayed.
Later, the news came that the elephants had fled
Crossing a hedge and a river in floods.
Those days of the rats were the days of their charm
When no living creature could even think of doing them harm.
They built kingdoms on lands lying vast
Fought amongst themselves and entered into pacts.
Then a day came when a cat bit a rat
And the unfortunate creature died in just a minute’s gap.
The surprised cat couldn't believe his eye
And his friends on hearing his story declared it a lie.
So, when a rat came demanding this cat
They thought him arrested for the lies he spat.
Later, when the rats kicked him strong
The cat in pain couldn't take it for long.
Groaning in pain he once again bit a rat
And was once again surprised to find him flat.
So, he bit the ones who attacked him first
Those were the creatures that fared the worst.
Rats themselves surprised turned tail and fled
But, the cat chased them with a frenzied head.
Those who saw the cat chase those fearsome rats
Consulted the eye-specialist who in his clinic sat.
But later when they found a few of them dead
They to their friends with this glorious news fled.
Yet none could believe the story they heard
And so they went to the ground where the incident occurred.
The old folks who couldn't arrive on the scene
Debated amongst themselves on that distant scene.
A wiser among them who thought his son could never lie
Regretted at old values now becoming parched and dry.
An honest among them held the case to be correct
For he was confident of his son’s conduct.
While the old ones debated the young ones came
Carrying with them the tails of young rats slain.
The honest one in victory shouted in voice deep
And the old ones danced by thumping their feet.
The jungle in joy ruptured with sounds
The goats and the dogs danced with hands held around.
They in the spirit their wild differences sank
And from the same pot hot coffee drank.
The animals now realizing their own strength
Were ashamed of magnifying a rat’s meager strength
So, they in anger ran around
Chasing the rats into burrows in the ground.
And it is the place where the rats then on stayed
Though some among them are now found to stray.
(N.B. The animals believed the planet Venus to be a star)
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