I was once a socialist rat who spent his time criticizing the bourgeois hamsters that humans adopt as pets. Men give them cheese and biscuits while we pick up morsels from the litter. I wanted a revolution! I needed to fight for the proletarian rats and the ugly, grey mice. And so, I joined a left-wing party and protested and debated. I gained a reputation, and the white mice, hamsters, and guinea pigs were terrified. I fought for the outcasts, the misfits, and the vagabonds. I screamed, “Liberty for the Sewer Rat! No more elitism! No more classist ignorance!” And then the elections came, and I spent nights smoking cheap cigarettes and scuttling across the dirtiest footpaths promoting myself and asking other mice to vote for me.
I hated that society had a hierarchy. I hated the contempt with which those hamsters looked at us. Such fluffy arrogance! I hated that they moved my cheese! I wanted a society in which everyone moved their cheese equally. “Egalitarianism!” I screamed aloud from rooftops while it still rained. “Vote for the downtrodden!” I yelled.
But the public rejected my stance. It rejected my Marxism on steroids. I lost my battle, and democracy prevailed. The hamsters stayed in power and got stronger. They started promoting politics that revolved around the sacredness of Cheddar. “Cheddar can’t be consumed!” They said in a jingoistic vein. “Cheddar is holy, precious, and pure!” They barked, and all the other mice agreed. From the lowest Sewer Rat to the fluffiest Guinea Pig, one shout echoed: “Cheddar! Cheddar! Cheddar!”
Soon, the mice started infesting Cheddar processing factories. Men and women died of diseases. The mice carted off the Cheddar to shrines where god-mice blessed the cheese and cursed the ones who ever bit into it. Mob violence broke out, and rats started killing lovers of Cheddar. They didn’t spare the Elite too. The hamsters said, “It’s better to eat a fellow rat than to eat Cheddar!” And the mice screamed like fanatics.
The hamsters installed spies in marketplaces and even in the sewers. They tracked down any illegal transportation of Cheddar and made sure their followers killed off the miscreants. Soon the hamsters said, “Bree is second only to Cheddar!” And then, “Parmesan is the third godly cheese.” And the persecutions increased.
By now, I realized that it was impossible to resist. The best path for me was to join the adversary. And so, I left the Union of Common Rats and joined the Party for Privileged Mice. I made that shift from left-wing to right-wing in a day. Today, I’m content with the power I have. I had a sewer rat executed yesterday. They say he touched a piece of Cheddar in a shrine.
© Nitin Lalit Murali (2019)