BY PATTY HOUSTON HOLM
I did not watch America’s live vice presidential debate because there was a rat in my toilet.
Weird, I know! Let me tell you all about it.
Four days prior to the CNN live broadcast, precisely at 4 a.m. on October 5, I knew it was there even before I saw it.
My husband, who had conveniently left our UCU apartment for the United States hours before the rat took its toilet bowl swim, said he saw the tail waving from the bedsprings. But Meri, the cat, had seen it too and so I was convinced that Meri was “on it”. Or, as Emmanuel, a chef at Eunice Guest House, said when he stopped by three days into this rodent occupation, “it will leave on its own.”
My Ugandan friends shrugged. “It is just a mouse!” That to me drew reference to the mice we had back in Ohio – tiny critters in our basement mostly. I have even beaten a few of them to death with a large spoon.
I consoled myself that even if rats were bigger than mice, they had more redeeming value.
Had I not read somewhere that rats were trained to sniff out land mines in Cambodia? In Tanzania they were detecting tuberculosis! I even recalled the Proverbs 30 reference to the value of all living things.
So I went to bed, reassuring myself that after all, with mouse safely out of sight, it might not even exist.
And just as the running mates for Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were being introduced, I entered the bathroom and turned on the light.
It was then that I saw the long, brownish- black rodent peering at me and trying to swim out of the toilet bowl. It was definitely a rat, and not a mouse.
I flushed the toilet once, twice; squeezed toilet cleanser in its face – nothing!
By this time the United States vice presidential candidates Tim Kane (Democratic Party) and Mike Pence (Republican Party) were halfway through their snipes at each other and their solutions for world peace.
I hadn’t absorbed any of it. My fast forward visions had me taking my bathroom breaks in the UCU Noll Building for the next two months.
Flashlight in hand and the political “blah-blah” emitting from the TV, I went down the steps and around the corner to awake the dosing security guard.
He came to my apartment reluctantly, reminding me that this
was not part of his job and likely wondering why the university allowed rat-fearing bazungu
to take up residence! In the bathroom, the guard sized up the critter that kept sliding back from the rim. Maybe, he said, he could scoop the rat out of the toilet bowl. Albeit reluctant, I said I would contribute a black trash bag for the effort. Our combined plan, which in my opinion was not a great one, was to save the rat’s life and relocate it to where it would be someone else’s problem. As the guard stood ready with his stick and black trash bag, the US Vice
presidential candidates gave their closing remarks. I leaned forward to push the flush lever.
With a gurgle of the swirling water, the rat was sucked out of my commode and into the sewage system.
The guard and I shared a smile as he left muddy footprints from the bathroom to my door.
Then the CNN news casters and others with loud voices but not necessarily credentials to match expounded on what they heard or did not hear Kane and Pence say.
Patty Huston-Holm, a former journalist from Ohio, USA, is on campus through November, working with the UCU School of Research and Postgraduate Studies to help master’s students complete their dissertations.