By Vijay Shah
It has been a baking hot day today here in London with temperatures pushing the 30 degree Celsius mark. I was meant to go to a family house for dinner today to mark the occasion of Eid-ul-Fitr but that flopped (Eid Mubarak to all Muslim Brainiacs BTW 🙂 ), so I have been at home all day sweltering, sweating, guzzling not quite enough cold water and wishing it was winter again. Once again I have been hovering around Facebook, reading my news feed and exchanging messages with one of my cousins in Mauritius. Once again I found another image which I shared after stumbling across it in one of the sillier parts of Zuckerbergland. It’s weird, sweet and funny, but also has a valuable message…
It is one of those internet meme-of-memes based on the old motivational posters that were a staple of bedrooms and boardrooms in the 70’s and 80’s, but now looks frightfully twee. They have now been given a new, cooler lease of life by a legion of online bedroom comedians.
This has to be one of the funniest-looking cartoon mice ever to grace the Internetz, not if you consider the squeaky-voiced fellow with the black ears who makes a fortune for Disney and Company. Michael the Mouse, I think his name is…Obviously performing hours of cardio-vascular exercises on a converted Victory trap have turned this once puny, cheddar-munching rodent into a furrier version of Jean-Claude van Damme. Endless pull-ups and crunches have morphed his mousey frame into a muscle-bound hybrid of a loaf of bread and a well-sealed burrito. This is one guy who would not only step up to Tiddles…he will seize hold of Pussycat’s well-groomed whiskers, grapple him into a headlock and send 5 kg of feline crashing through the nearest double-glazed window. The food chain has been well and truly turned on its head
I have lived through a few mouse infestations in the various flatshares I stayed in. Where I am residing now once played unwelcome host to a family of small brown house mice that made their home in a hole underneath a boiler in the kitchen’s storage space. Every time I came down late in the evening for a nightcap, I would hear Mum, Pop and their brood scratching relentlessly behind the gas cooker. God knows what the flip they were searching for. Every now and then, if I remained very still and quiet and just concentrated on sipping my tea, one of the braver mice would appear in the corner of the kitchen and watch me with its beady soulless eyes. It would scamper a bit, sniffing the ground like a miniscule bloodhound. At the first sign of movement, off he or she went, scuttling at breakneck speed under the fridge or back into their hideyhole. One of the flatmates put down mouse poison…the green seedy stuff. Under cover of darkness, the mice would gorge themselves silly on the grains, and leave behind the husks, seemingly without any ill-effect. The guy also put out glue traps and traditional mousetraps like our friend in the picture had just disabled.
Unfortunately unlike Mr Muscle Mouse, his real-life relatives were much less endowed in the risk awareness department. A few met a sticky end in the glue traps. These traps are very cruel in their efficiency. The mouse wanders into the glue trap, thinking it to be some kind of minimalist rodent-sized caravan. Instead it becomes the mouse’s coffin. Industrial strength glue inside the cardboard trap snares the rodent, causing its fur to be torn off and its limbs to be bonded to the trap bottom with no hope of escape. The spring traps claimed a couple of victims as well. One poor sod was caught in a glue trap behind the living room sofa and its corpse lain undiscovered for weeks…only found once it began stinking out the whole room.
There was one mouse who had however won my grudging admiration. He was of slightly larger size than the boiler room residents and was a dark grey instead of brown. This varmint had skills and dexterity…not to mention looking like he had a workout too. I even nicknamed him ‘Rambo’. I only saw him a couple of times, one was when while I was in the kitchen, washing up after dinner.
I had noticed a movement in the corner of my left eye and turned around assuming that one of my housemates was trying to get access to the hob. Instead I see Rambo perched on the electrical supply wires that run into the hood of the cooker. Bear in mind, these cable were suspended against a wall thirty or so inches from the kitchen worktop. He remained there, watching me watching him. I moved forward quickly in a futile attempt to trap his grey furry ass. As quick as any squirrel, Rambo ran the length of the wires and disappeared into the hood, never to be seen again. Mice, despite their appearance and proclivity for been ensnared easily with a slab of wood and peanut butter, are not that stupid. They form families and raise their young protectively just as humans do. They even attract mates by singing to them, in a frequency too low to be detected by human ears. They only are a nuisance to people because like them, people are sloppy and messy, and not even the smartest man or woman would refuse free food!.
Moving away from animals…”What doesn’t kill you, can only make you stronger” is a sound piece of advice and one saying I personally swear by. Life is hard, in fact it can be unbearable. Bad things can happen even to the most decent people…losing your job, going through a messy divorce, being bullied, watching your house burn down…these sort of scenarios can test anyone’s wellbeing. The mental anguish, the frustration, the feelings of hopelessness, whatever it may be, all this can chip away at and nibble down a person’s fortitude and mental strength. But if the situation does not end your life, then you know that at least you still have a life worth living. Never let a negative situation bring you down. Remember, as hard as it is, try to be a mouse with a full block of Red Leicester, not a mouse with a mouldy dried-out chunk of Dairylea. Take stock of what went wrong, take charge of your emotions and try to remain positive. Plan how you will bounce back and make sure every step takes you closer to happiness. There is always a brand new day, a cloud with a silver lining, a light at the end of the tunnel…you get what I mean.
Just as the cartoon mouse above turned a potentially fatal obstacle in his environment into something positively transforming him for the better, you can also transform negative into positive. Life is what you make of it. The average human now lives for around 70-90 years compared to 3-5 for a mouse. Make each one of them count and avoid becoming trapped by life’s challenges. You are, after all, smarter than a mouse.