Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home


The Field Mice Saga

This story is about those field mice that lived by the “Our Little River”. Yes it is the same river that Tagore wrote about in his poem. The only difference is that, the river has grown taller now. No, there's no problem with my knowledge of the English language (though it's not enough to brag about) and I do mean “taller”. But the height could only be seen during monsoon, when the 'little daughter field mouse' used to think that the river was trying to befriend her and had come one step closer to her house. Actually it's not her house, it was their house. And “they” means thousands of field mice.

The house was quite crowded in fact. They had to sleep on top of one another. And it stank. At first, it wasn't a problem but with the number of field mice growing at exponential rate, the small hole (oh, did I forget to mention that they lived in a hole) had no nooks and corner left for excretion. They kept telling each other that the hole should be cleaned; made healthier, transparent and so on and on. But nobody moved the thing where their tail was attached. And they kept on sitting, eating and sleeping on their shit. Some mice, especially the young ones, had had enough of this shitty business and they ran away to the “clean towns”.

One of them met this Mr. Idiot Money Lover and told him the problem. Now Mr. Idiot Money Lover happened to be an extremist in benevolence. He immediately jumped up to help, but on one conditions.

I should have given you some more information before I continued with the story. Anyway here it is. The field mice being field mice definitely lived near some field. The field was quite fertile and the field mice used to collect all their grain from there. They had, in fact, created a good store of food grain for winter, although most of those were laden with filth.

Now our Mr. Idiot Money Lover was in dire need of grains. It was not that he did not have enough to eat but he needed grains to do more benevolent deeds. So he told the runaway field mouse that he would solve their problem only if all of them agree to gather grains for him instead. The field mouse eagerly agreed for he dreamt of marrying Miss MoneyPenny, Mr. Idiot Money Lover's daughter (All stories have to be a love story at some point of time).

So the runaway mouse took Mr. Idiot Money Lover's proposal to the filthy hole and to his great relief, except for a few deaf mice, everyone agreed. So Mr. Idiot Money Lover came from town, inspected the hole and said it needed cleaning (as if the field mice did not know that already).

He came up with a much better idea. He said he'd help them build a high-tech hygienic toilet that'll fix the problem once and for all. Next thing he did was organise a cleaning committee that created a sub-committee and was to be supervised by a divisional sub-committee and so on.

Then they really started to work. The first thing they did was to evict all the field mice from the hole. C'mon, it was necessary. You need to empty a place to clean it. Come wind, come rain, come 'nothing', all the field mice stood outside the hole (some got eaten by the snake who lived across the field), waiting for their much desired toilet. One day, Mr. Idiot Money Lover's cousin, Wicked Bigmouth happened to pass by the hole and then he also felt like helping. You see they all come from a kin of benevolent people. He came up with another yet fantastic strategy. He said that the field mice were eating too much. They should eat less and thus excrete less. It was the idea of the millennium. Within weeks the population of mice halved.

Building a high- tech, hygienic toilet required lots of space and soon the filthy granary had to be removed. A few “good for nothing” mice tried to squeak out a protest but that was dealt with by reducing their nourishment quota. They were stupid enough not to understand the consequence of adulterated food.

At last the toilet construction was coming to an end and the field mice who now looked like human models (that was a by product of the 'less excretion strategy' - for slim mice require smaller spaces) grew very excited. BEHOLD! Their entire hole had been turned into a nice hygienic toilet.

The field mice were so overwhelmed with joy that they could hardly squeak. I guess they were about to thank Mr. Idiot Money Lover and his cousin, but you see those two were true gentlemen and did not want to be praised outright. So they had left for town. When everyone were still trying to get over this new dumbfounded joy, one of the reduced- grain-quota mouse meekly squeaked out, “So where shall we live now and what shall we eat?” slowing turning his whisker towards the empty field and then towards the empty granary-turned-toilet.

Well, don't worry he did get his answer. Remember the “Our Little River” who was hesitant about befriending the little daughter mouse? “Our Little River” at last made up his mind about friendship and came crashing over his friend and her family and the highly strategic hygienic toilet.
The End.

By Tamanna Khan

Directions? What's that, stupid?

Why is getting around the city so hard? How come we weren't taught how to negotiate the city traffic and learn all the names of the roads and the geography of the city instead of all the useless things we learned in school? What were Dhaka City Planners smoking when they envisioned this great city of ours? These are the questions you ask when you suddenly find yourself old enough to go out without a chaperone or, if you are awesome, an escort. You are bound to get lost. And the reasons for this are plenty. These are the top three.

Numbers, Names and Lies
You may think the streets of the city are properly named and numbered. Block-A comes before Block-B, Road number 4 after 3 and so forth. Except of course, you are completely wrong. To confirm, walk around Lalmatia where Block-A is followed by Block-B which is followed by Block-nothing which leads to Block-D after which there is F and Block-G is actually Kazi Nazrul Islam road. Understood anything? No? Welcome to Lalmatia.

Dhanmondi isn't far behind. There is road number 9 and road number 9 (new) and road 26 which is actually road number 9 Dhanmondi, except its in Shankar. Wait, what? Exactly. The most confusing is, of course, Baridhara and DOHS. Here the streets are numbered in complete numerical order. One comes after two then three then four and we get confused. Why the need to be so accurate? It's uncanny in the city.

Let's Ask for Directions
Don't. Never ever ask for directions. People here know absolutely nothing. You can be looking for a person's address but catch him outside his house and he will be completely stumped. When you ask for location people will automatically ask for a landmark. You will name the landmark and they will never have heard of it. If they did, they will give you the most complicated set of directions ever uttered full of lefts, rights, leave turn, leave turn, don't go, go, stop, turn and will always end with 'then ask someone'. Then why did he utter garbage for so long? 'Cause he can. The worst isn't being told the person is unaware of where you want to go exactly. It isn't even the stare they give as if you asked the most ridiculous thing in the world. The worst is when they fail to admit they don't know and just lie about the directions. You can go back and look for these people, but you will never find them. Their sole purpose of existence is to lie and then disappear forever.

It is never easy
When a location sounds too easy, remember it is not. 'Just off the main road' means travel on the main road, turn left and then spend an entire hour searching. 'Opposite to X' means 'X doesn't really exist'. 'One with big sign' means 'sign cannot be seen, ever'. And finally 'it's the easiest location' means 'I don't know where the hell it is.' No matter how easy you make it sound, it's not true. Try directing someone clueless to your house. You'll know what we are talking about. And if someone says it's a five minute walk or a 100 taka CNG ride or a 10 taka rickie ride, multiply all numbers by 42. For them its five minutes because they know where they are but you don't. The time you take is a dependent variable, dependent on your intelligence and street smarts.

So, in conclusion if you need to go someplace new you don't know, then don't go. Unless you want to be lost and ridiculed for the rest of your life. And you thought Robinson Crusoe had it bad.

By Osama Rahman


home | The Daily Star Home

2012 The Daily Star