Monday, 1 December 2014

Ratastrophe: An Allegory Of Something Or Other

There was once a white rat who decided that he was the luckiest in the whole wide world.

He lived in a cage in a big white laboratory, and every day an attendant in a white coat would come and feed him nuggets of food, and changed the bottle which dripped water for him to drink through a tube.

This made the white rat very happy.

“I must be something special,” he thought to himself, “if I have an attendant of my very own, who brings me food and water – not to speak of this splendid cage, which is the best house I could have imagined.”

There were other rats in the laboratory, and some of them laughed when they heard him say this sort of thing.

“Sure,” they jeered. “And then one day some man in a white coat will stick a needle in you, and fill you with germs, and then pump you with chemicals to see if you live.”

“Or they’ll shave away your fur, and put creams and gels to your skin to see if you get cancer,” another rat added.

“They might do that to you,” the luckiest rat in the world said loftily. “But I’m special, and nothing like that will ever happen to me.”

“How can you say you’re special?” another of the rats asked. “You’re just another rat in a laboratory, living your life in a cage.”

“Of course I’m special,” he told her. “Otherwise I could have been like one of the wild rats, living in sewers and holes in the ground, filthy and covered with fleas. And so are you, but you’re too stupid to understand it.”

The other rats sneered. “Your time will come,” they told him. “Then you’ll see.”

“You’re just jealous,” he replied, “because none of you are as lucky and special as I am.”

But then one day a hand reached into the cage, picked him out, and injected him with a mixture of germs, so that a day later he was burning up with fever and trembling in all his limbs.

Now do you agree that you’re not special?” the other rats called to him where he lay on the floor of his cage.

“Never,” he replied, or he would have, if he could speak.

But then the same hand took him out of the cage, and injected him full of chemicals, which flooded through his body and made him feel sicker than ever; but little by little he did get better. And the other rats in the cages who had mocked him and had been injected with the same diseases but with different chemicals were all dead.

“I am the greatest!” the rat cheered. “I’m the luckiest, most wonderful rat in the world!”

Except mayhap in the sewers beneath the lab floor, where the dirty brown wild rats perhaps heard and sniggered, nobody said anything.

There was nobody left to reply.

Copyright B Purkayastha 2014



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