'A mouse! A mouse in the house!' shrieked my mom as we saw the mouse scuttle around, playing hide and seek. Not a normal mouse, mind you but an intelligent mouse, with brains as big as the one above. He roamed and lorded over our house as night whilst we were sleeping.
And when we awoke? Gasp! What dastardly deeds had Mr. Mouse committed in the depth of the night? Handfuls of rice, a couple of sweet potatoes and even a packet of 3-in-1 instant tea were gone! Vamoosed! And there was not even a single trace of the Mr. Mouse’s tracks.
Every night, our family trembled in fear of Mr. Mouse exploits. What would go missing next? Silent, still and swift as the night – Mr. Mouse went about his business carefully, cautiously and calmly. For a month, he plundered and pillaged, till our house was barren and bare. Fortunately, Mr. Mouse had very good housekeeping habits and our house was clean though bare.
‘Confound it! No mouse is going to get the better of me!’ my Mom remarked. Thus began the Battle of Wits between Mom and Mr. Mouse. She first set a mouse cage on the floor with some alluring bait to lure the Mr. Mouse into the trap. Unfortunately, Mr. Mouse preferred fine dining at my house table and refused to stoop so low.
Mom then packed all the foodstuffs and placed them into a plastic food basket. Heck, she even placed some canned foods on top of the food basket cover to prevent Mr. Mouse from getting his greedy paws on it. And the very next day, she found Mr. Mouse had nibbled through the openings in the basket to treat himself with some instant 3-in-1 coffee.
‘This means WAR!’ uttered my mom. With all manner of canned foods and condensed milk, mom began fortifying her food basket until it was a veritable fortress. Not even a Herculean mouse would be able to penetrate that fortress. She then placed even more enticing foods into the mouse trap!
Voila! After starving for several days, Mr. Mouse couldn’t resist and made for the mouse trap. The very next morning, Mr. Mouse had been caught.
Mr. Mouse looked very pitiful in his condition. When I first looked at Mr. Mouse, the cage stank of fear and refuse. He was in a pitiful condition and the fear was palpable. At that instant, I thought to myself:
‘WHAT RIGHT DO I HAVE TO TAKE THE LIFE OF A SENTIENT BEING, EVEN BE IT A MOUSE?’
I talked to my mom and she agreed. Taking away a being’s life is easy. Yet, can we succeed in restoring a being’s life, after it is taken away? So I took the mouse cage and walked to an open field, far away. As I held the mouse cage, I felt Mr. Mouse huddled at the cage, shivering and trembling.
That very instant, I had an epiphany! Was I any different from the mouse in the cage?
Me vis-à-vis Mr. Mouse
1. A not-so-intelligent being, entrapped due to foolish desires:
Mr. Mouse caught due to hunger for Food and me in my abandon, yearning for Wealth and Fame.
2. Regretful of the Past, Heedless of the Present and Fearful of the Future
Mr. Mouse and me were the perfect couple, both mindlessly living our mundane lives.
3. Audacity of Hope
Mr. Mouse had the audacity to hope that a human being, would be kind enough to release him. Me? I too, have the foolish hope that I, my family and all sentient beings will be happy and free from sadness and pain.
Three Leaps to Freedom
So, as we walked to the open field, I pondered long and hard. And I set the mouse cage on that open field and released the gate of the cage. Mr. Mouse did not dash out as I expected him to. I had to nudge him, once, twice and thrice before he finally sprinted out.
It was almost as if, he could not believe he was freed. At the end of the field, I saw him jump thrice. His initial skip, seemed to signify gratefulness. His next – was one of joy. And his final huge leap, was one of freedom and happiness of being free, in the present moment. Thus, he leaped out of my sight.
Was I dreaming? It was such a small thing, releasing Mr. Mouse. Yet, at that very moment, I realize an important thing. Happiness is fleeting, true. And yet, true happiness requires so very little, only gratefulness and staying true to the present moment.