My first encounter with Little Victor happened almost three weeks ago. I had just moved into a new place in Surulere and was still in the process of unpacking. I had a large stack of empty cartons in my room which previously housed all sorts of appliances and because of my really hectic schedule, I still hadn’t had the chance to do a proper clean up. If you are a worker in Lagos, you know what I mean.

Anyway, I think it was the first night I spent in the room. It was dark…because I put the lights out. The only sound was the quiet hum of the air-conditioner and the distant rumble of faraway generators in the neighborhood. PHCN was gracious to me that night.

I was supposed to be asleep because it was quite late and I had to be at work the next day but as is often the case with me, I tossed and turned for quite a while in a bid to seduce sleep but she wouldn’t oblige me so in silent frustration, I decided to head to the sitting room to watch some tv.

The moment I switched on the lights in my room, I saw a black flash on the rug. At first, I thought that was my eye adjusting to the sudden illumination from the sixty-watt bulb that hung in the middle of the ceiling. I let it slide but as I was about to head out of the room, I saw the black flash again and this time, I realized that I had a trespassing roommate.

Now here’s the thing about me; I hate creepy crawlies. I am yet to be convinced why creatures like roaches and the likes exist. I have been told that they all in their own way, contribute to maintain balance in the ecosystem but I’m of a different view. I think they were put on this earth to trouble my soul because they creep the hell out of me. Ok, maybe I don’t really have a problem with their existence, I just don’t want them to exist around my personal space.

Rodents are another matter. As a child, I had heard of this particular breed of smelly mice or skunk if you will, with a pointed mouth referred to in Igbo language as “Onu Nkapi”. It was a popular breed mostly found in boarding school dormitories and village tales because of its intelligence – let me explain: Legend has it that a favorite pastime of the rat was to nibble at the feet of humans while they slept and when signs of discomfort began to show, they would pause and blow air at the spot of the feet they feasted to soothe the pain and prevent discovery. The unsuspecting victim would wake up and feel shock and pain when the nibbled part of the foot touched the ground. Ever since that tale, I have added rodents to my list of odious creatures.

I digress. I was greatly disturbed to find that I had a rodent as a roomie. The fear of the legend of “Onu Nkapi” which was notorious for the spread of lassa fever made me convert the sitting room to a temporary bedroom while I pondered on how to arrest the situation. Little Victor, as I christened him, always made it a point of duty to remind me that we both had equal rights in the occupancy of my room.

Whenever I went into the room to retrieve something, there he was staring at me…taunting me, daring me. Any thought of giving him a chase never crossed my mind as I knew it would be a futile exercise because he was almost as fast as the speed of light. If he were human, I would have suspected Wally West’s hand…or other appendage in Little Victor’s parentage.

After deep thought and sufficient investigation into its effectiveness, I bought the popular rat trap usually hawked by the road side whenever I headed home in the customary Lagos traffic. I was convinced that I had found a way to effectively dispose of my unwanted roomie so I decided to do a wholesome clean-up of my room on Saturday.

Suprisingly, Little Victor was nowhere to be found that day and the better part of Sunday which struck me as odd. I wondered if he had turned a new leaf and had decided to leave me and MY ROOM the hell alone. Just as a precaution, I opened the rat trap which consisted of a thick layer of glue on a paper board and placed it by the side of the wall which was his favoured route.  

I stepped into my room late yesterday evening. The power was out so it was dark but I heard struggling movements and when I beamed my beloved torch light Nokia on the spot I placed the trap, I was elated to see the trap had caught its prize. There was Little Victor in a thick puddle of glue struggling to get out.

I grinned evilly. I thought of a million ways to send Little Victor to his ancestors and none seemed right at the moment. I drew nearer for a closer look and there was this look of determination in his eyes that I found intriguing. I think I saw fear when I peered into his black, watery-looking eyes that suddenly screamed innocence. I felt the evil intent in me relent and I decided to let him wear himself out. Besides, I had no energy to deal with it at that moment especially as power was out. I closed the door and headed to the sitting room to sleep.

I was hurriedly preparing for work this morning when I remembered and decided to check on Little Victor to see how he had fared during the night and I was amazed to find that he had escaped! On closer investigation, I discovered it was quite a struggle. Little Victor also succeeded in smearing my shoes in glue; a pointer to the fact that he was still very much in the room. As if that wasn’t bad enough, he chomped on my shoe in retaliation!

I was astonished – I never knew that rodents could be so vindictive!

As I type this brief story now, I realise that the battle for who inhabits MY ROOM between Little Victor and I just got started. I am surprised at how he managed to survive the ordeal. Most rats as small as he is usually die from the exhaustion of such prolonged struggle.

If the little bugger eventually dies in my room, I’ll have to wait till weekend to be able to clear my room once again and by that time, rigor mortis would have set in, making the room practically inhabitable for a time. If he doesn’t die, I imagine him showing off his welts of war, addressing a congregation of motivated little rats determined to make my life miserable by exacting some form of revenge.

I sincerely hope this is the rambling of an over-active mind.

Malcolm O. Ifi.