We chased him all over the place holding sticks, sandals and shoes as weapons. We were hell-bent on administering mob justice on Ratso Grey. He didn’t deserve to be alive; everyone was weary of his thieving. He took what was ours repeatedly and unremorsefully. He left very many torn clothes, bitten shoes and half-eaten foods in his wake.
Worse still, he answered nature’s call in the most inappropriate places; cups, plates, suitcases, sugar tins...name it. It took us quite a while to catch him but when we finally did, we surrounded him and beat him until he stopped trying to escape, until he stopped tossing and turning, until he was lying still. But as we watched his seemingly lifeless body stretched out and scarred, a part of us was filled with compassion. We were compelled to hold a funeral.
“Dearly beloved,” Viola, one of the students, began, “We are gathered here today to say goodbye to Mr Ratso Grey.” A few of us broke out in loud wailing. Inexperienced in conducting funeral rites, Viola borrowed phrases and quotes from the Bible, movies and books. “May God have mercy on his soul,” she ended. It dawned on us that burying Mr Ratso Grey without putting him in a coffin or something equivalent would be quite cruel. But then we thought of all the times that he had wronged us, of all the times we found our doughnuts decorated with bite marks. We patted ourselves on the shoulder for the kind consideration that we were affording him.
None of us was willing to touch him, so we agreed to use sticks to push his body into the hole that we had dug for him. We pushed once, twice and the third time he suddenly came alive and flew towards my face. I ducked and he flew over me, landing a few metres away. He wasted no time making his escape into the school garden. We were startled by this turn of events but half-relieved that his blood was not on our hands. At the same time, seeing as he was headed for the swamp, we knew that he had a smaller chance of survival now, than if we had buried him alive. It was guaranteed that in time, he would kick the bucket.
By evening, we were all preoccupied with our own idle thoughts and we forgot about the disappearance of Ratso Green. But right after lights out, we heard a familiar but louder and pluralised squealing in the ceiling. Ratso Green had returned. But more than that, he had the nerve to bring a friend along with him. We declared war. Armed once again with sticks, sandals and shoes, we headed for the ceiling. The battle raged on into the dead of the night and by this time, we had been reduced to the resemblance of pigs; dirty and sweaty. The battle ended in humiliating defeat on our part.
Every night after that, we committed ourselves to finding Ratso Green. If not to stop the gruesome destruction to which our property had been subjected, then at least to restore the pride we lost by losing in battle. When we finally caught him again, we arranged his meeting with death by putting him in a frog cage in the Biology lab. All the other rat-so-greys we caught after that met the same fate.