Lost & Found

The rat’s dilemma

A cafe stood up in the middle of Brinchang City in Cameron Highlands. Fakhrul, a part time waiter, is anxiously and carefully bringing the ordered food and heading towards the respective, hungry customers. It was a very busy day. Every staffs were running around taking and sending orders while retaining a good impression to get away from the manager’s rage.

Suddenly, some plate collapsed and crashed, spreading pieces everywhere. Fakhrul is shocked for a moment and saw the culprit running away with a small piece of cheese. The whole cafe is stunt; every focus is distracted! Then, the atmosphere turned panic after one lady customer, hysterically and nonstop shouting

“Rats! Rats! Rats! Rats! Rats! Rats!”

Fakhrul cursed blindly and silently to the rat as if communicating with it mentally. He brushes through the cafe from the store, now with a broom, he waited no moment to attack lavishly onto the rat. One hit to the right, the rat was already on the left. Its short equivalent legs are meant to run fast. Another hit to the left, it got hit on a customer’s feet, unfortunately.

“Ouch! Watch it waiter! My leg ain’t look like a rat!”

“Sorry sir!”

Looking around, the distraught atmosphere has the customers siphoned out of the cafe. Fakhrul becomes increasingly frustrated as the cafe is newly opened and will need more time rebuilding reputation because of one tiny little thief, rat. And this is only part time job of his!

But with less people, there are more spaces to launch the broom attacks.

A few minutes passed, outside the cafe, the vengeance driven broom thumping sound has not ceased. The rat maneuvered skillfully avoiding being stamped and still finding its way out. Fakhrul caught the pepper filled bottle, divorced the cap from the bottle and splashes onto the rat which stumbled a moment and sneezed repeatedly.

Each time the rat tries to run away, it will sneeze and jumped backward making its effort worthless. Fakhrul realized the pattern so he targets the perfect moment and just the moment of the sneezing comes, he hit satisfyingly without mercy on the weakened target. But the rat’s inconsistent position has by luck placed it rightly on the broom. The surprised Fakhrul swings the broom to the opened door;outside.

And the rat landed into the drain and stopped sneezing. It gets brighter and noisier as vehicles are passing by actively. Upon to see the surrounding with too many legs moving about, the rat rest in a hidden place beside a lamp post and just right in his vision, a portion of cheese laid outside the cafe. Hungrily, the rat ran for it.

Fakhrul, now standing outside the cafe, saw the running rat and swiftly kicked it flying into the back portion of a lorry. Horrifyingly, the pepper has affected the rat’s precious, sensitive smell which means, it can never smell the way home. But the lorry is bringing the rat to a new home. Perhaps a temporary home.

The rabbit finds a new journey

An aroma spread into the air. The tea is ready while the grandma is filtering excessive oil of the banana fritters. She extends the sleeve of her blouse to sponged sweat of her forehead. The evening will be filled with her only grandchild while her parents will be gone for a few days of a business trip. And a lovely day to rejoice her with lovely food and drinks.

She glanced over to outside the garden behind the house, the rabbit is hopping around playfully. A packet of carrots lay over on the table, she rolled over her sleeves, took out 4 of them and scatters them into the garden. Impossible to fail, the rabbit will find every carrot within the garden which is mainly carpeted with boring green grass.

Never once did she fail to feed the rabbit but she grew physically tired of its companion after long hours spent on her work. All she wanted is a long day break. She planned to give away the rabbit. While looking at the clock, she stretched her arms after the long hours of cleaning. The child will arrive soon and soon also, the house will be less lonely.

At the front house, a car zoomed and stopped. The rabbit stood up and each time the car’s doors are shut, it startled. The garden is not connected with outside world and the old bricks surrounding it are expelling. But this is where the child loves most because back at home, she needs to comply with routine rules and regulations but here, it is freedom. Finally the car zoomed again, disappearing.

The grandma has had the food and drink ready by the table and led the child enjoy herself. The crispy banana fritters are delicious to be eaten with warm tea. But the child is anxious to play with the rabbit. It is a dilemma for the grandma to give away the rabbit because this would also disappoint the child.

Both the rabbit and the child are fully fed by the grateful and tired grandma. While the kid provoked the rabbit and chasing it, the grandma sat down by the garden and watch. Her old age has taken her to a painful passive life so the rabbit switches her role to accompany the child while her aging body signals to rest, so she sat down, and fall asleep.

The child carry the rabbit gently, resting it on her arms and walked into the house while combing its soft, mixed of black and white hair. She saw the leftovers on the table and decided to have it all by herself, lay down the rabbit and reach the table. The rabbit wanders around confusingly and found the bright outside through the loose closed door as though it is going home.

-half an hour later-

When the grandma wakes up, both the rabbit and the child were not in sight. She put herself up hardly and quickly and enters the house. The child is asleep calmly at the sofa. In the kitchen. the dining table has bits of banana fritters all over. But it was silent. She knew. Her dilemma is solved. But when she looked at the innocent sleeping child with yellow bits around her mouth, she is wondering whether should she buy another rabbit?

The lost and unlucky uninvited guest

In broad daylight in the strawberry farm, appeared 2 uninvited creatures. One with a limbless, long elongated body while the other with hind legs, a large head, short body and before, with a tail. The former, is still confused, adapting to the new surrounding while the latter has just extended its tongue trapping fruit flies back to its mouth, hence, well fed.

The former contracts and relax its muscles as it moves, the serpentine movement. It is poisonous. It smells something, it smells food! So it followed the smell. It follows slowly, making the serpentine movement through the grass, neglecting the soft soil as it goes.

The loss python is agitated, dancing its forked tongue while the frog remains motionless, well fed, regretfully unnoticed of becoming the prey. Though loss, the python feels lucky to access its role in the ecosystem, the predator or in other words, to eat. Ironically, the predator meets a predator.

And it is funny because the frog sings but what an ugly voice it has! As the air is forced through its larynx in varying frequencies, it sings. The frog is nothing but an out of tune tuba player. During this short musical stage, the python launches its common locomotion, the fearless, speechless serpentine movement.

The sun stands directly up as it began to become hotter and the filled frog vocalized heavily as more air is pumped in. At the strawberry farm, the modern watering system operates automatically and the grateful, loss frog which require humid jumps a few meters away as though noticing and avoiding the silent raging python.

Between the frog and the python, the strawberries danced to the falling water from the machine operated tap. Slowly and carefully, controlling the excitement as it continues to envelope the frog. One of the tap malfunctioned, but neither the frog or the snake realized, a worker came to check.

The dampened soil has become a comfortable bed for the frog. Being showered by the water, with full stomach, paradise means nothing more. The shower comes to a stop, the frog looked but the tap is working and its voice halted like a musician dropped its tuba while playing. It is the python! Without a sound, the python strike! And it became dark!

“Gotcha!”

Realized from afar of clear weird movement, the worker gets himself an empty sack and a long stick. With the watering sound prevent the snake’s sensor ability, the worker took it for granted and successfully pulled the python with the stick into the empty sack!

The frog escaped peacefully while hurriedly singing like a musician lost track of the song with still, the ugly voice. And the rain is coming.

One day in a strawberry farm in Cameron Highland

The owner came rushing after being informed of the situation, too worried if anything happens to any of her workers and horrified herself thinking of any snake nest possibly available in her late husband’s farm. She enters the vast strawberry farm straight to the store.

She read George McMillan Darrow’s Strawberry : History, Breeding and Physiology and recalled the first cultivation which is in 13th century in France. The strawberries unfortunately could not be breed everywhere in the world as it requires non-extreme condition like in Cameron Highlands located in equatorial Malaysia which is blessed with moderate rain and sun climate. And it also attracts common predators like birds and insects but rarely, snake and frog.

Her beloved late husband has tried many unharmed methods to disallowed strawberry’s predators especially the popular birds. He creatively used the picture of an eye to psychologically shoo away the birds as though warning the birds that they are being watched. And the birds never came back!

Passed the door, she checked the routine schedule, it is Fakhrul’s turn for inspection. Ah, he was the one who captured the snake! She remembered that a lorry will be coming to hand over the ordered farming utensils. It should be arriving anytime soon but first thing first, she has to be reassured of the captured snake problem.

Fakhrul gave the owner a brief explanation and informed that the fire brigade department has sent a team to pick the snake. The owner is relieved and proud to have such a brave and reliable employee. She is considering to upgrade his part time contract to a full time based since he has lost his job at the cafe in Brinchang City today morning.

After her husband’s death, she is skeptical of her capability of managing the farm and how surprised she is with herself.

She looked at the snake filled sack on the table by the door and hopefully it will be sent somewhere else soon. The gushing water from the watering system is disturbed by the roaring lorry which came to a stop after a while.

Both of them went out, making the door shut but not closed, knocked the sack by the table to the floor and the sack is loosened! There is a light upwards, the python looked and slowly went into it. Now outside the sack, hungry, through the silent serpentine movement make its way towards the opened door. The python is escaping!

The owner ordered Fakhrul to have a look at the arrived utensils and obediently he deals with the lorry drivers, making sure the invoice matched with the items. Somehow his day is not so bad besides the rat tragedy at the cafe this morning which cause him his job and somehow he suspects that the ill-maintained environment in Brinchang City is the culprit for making homes for pests like rat just like the one at the row of hoes. The rat sneezed!

Surprised and raged in anger, Fakhrul grabbed a hoe and hammered his target repeatedly but all of the hits failed and the rat managed its way out to the strawberry farm straight into the store through the opened door and it is just inches away. The lorry drivers and the owner who are witnessing the scene are confused as how a man could be so enraged by a tiny innocent rat.

A talented fast runner, the rat saw a head coming out of the door with its mouth wide open boasting its forked tongue but the poor rat could do nothing to stop at its current speed and now, realizing there is no where out; front, the python while at the back, the human both unbeatable predators. Finally, it crashed into the mouth as a serving to the winning predator; python.

But the rat’s dilemma has not ended, it sneezed again! The python is startled and strengthen its mouth letting no space for escape. And the rat sneezed again and again. The python is losing strength and lastly, with a another fateful sneeze, the rat flew away from both the predators.

The rat rubbed it nose and its smell came back! It breathe in deeply sensing home’s scent! Lucky rat! Within a few minutes, it could be ruptured with the python’s destructive enzymatic saliva. And within seconds, the rats destiny is twisted yet again; more years of living and with more cheese possibly.

Fakhrul, who came into senses, forgets the rat and focus on the python. Predator versus predator, only one will remain. The owner from afar, took a new sack from the lorry and threw it to Fakhrul who skillfully swept the python into the sack with the hoe.

The owner sigh a relief when she hears the siren of the fire brigade. Fakhrul handed over the sack to the authorities and cursed the rat silently, of its precious luck. The owner reminded Fakhrul of the utensils and he hurried to finish his job.

Passed through the farm the owner realized that there are pieces of eaten strawberry alongside one row, she wondered whether the python has changed to herbivorous , which is not true. Or could be another predator. She followed the trail of the pieces and found the culprit, gnawing strawberries with its teeth, munching like it has never eaten such delicious fruit before.

The owner recognized its soft white and black fur pattern. Its definitely the rabbit! What an extraordinary and unbelievable traveling it has gone to. She held it up and looked into its eyes, they are pleading as though it misses her so much. The thought of her grandchild came into her mind and on her lips articulated a meaningful smile knowingly her future has made a reverse. Less lonely.

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