Many would argue that keeping mice these days is a tricky hobby given the ubiquity of cat owners and the relentless friends of cat owners who wish to at least be tolerated, if not patronizingly accepted by their friends’ cats in order to gauge if they should get one themselves. This house in the bylanes of a largely ignored city of a heavily human populated country has no such problem keeping mice. The large ones effectively scare off the kinds of visitors they do not like but tolerate (like my own family) and the small ones add in terms of entertainment of the empty nest the house had descended to. Not that I was entirely comfortable with germ bearing rodents but on realizing that my parents were incredibly uneasy in their presence, I chose to accept the mice for all their scuttling, uncertain ways that I identified with. My parents, during our stay, would have a hard time isolating me from the rats to dish out the scoldings I had rightfully earned for the week I’d been away at college. The mice went wherever I did, keeping a good two feet radius from me and for the first time I would feel like an older sibling and come to my initial conclusion that siblingry was overrated.
The night we had booked ourselves on the cheapest, most inconvenient flights back, I wasn’t entirely looking forward to leaving the mice (that I had, by then, named cheesily enough to justify never keeping pets of my own). The mice seemed to know it was a goodbye because they tailed me everywhere, watched as I unsteadily brushed in a verandah from behind the stacks of unwashed dishes and a plastic drum of water for when the municipal system failed the city. This I have to mention because of all the things a girl does, the first few minutes after waking up are arguably the most intimate when she has had no chance to observe her disheveled hair and blooming spots on her face juxtaposed with a mild fragrance of drool, and she doesn’t welcome company, of the rodent-sibling sort or any other. They accompanied me walking to the living room with coffee to wake any comatose individual, but I only really awoke with the harsh realization that I had posted an inappropriate coffee fantasy Snapchat story at 3am. I left the house searching for the larger rodents because they hadn’t kept me company all morning and I had never been more sheltered than in their squeaky company. I could never admit to these abnormal rodent brothers and sisters that I felt a squeaky tear lodge itself in my tear ducts but I wiped it off with an early morning eye booger. Mice were good company where humans failed and they didn’t share any aversion to other species, which was pretty cool.