By Malek Arol Dhieu
Rats suffered a great deal in the hand of cats. Both of them did not and still do not, know that they are related. Their relation begins from the name. Rat and cat differ only in the first letter, but the rest are the same.
A cat outwitted the rats to choose it their leader. I do not know why members of a different class chose a member of a different class to be their leader. Maybe they had no tribalism. But this used to happen! When rats had a case among themselves, they did not use to take law into their hands. They always tried to follow it up lawfully.
But when they went to their leader, Mr. Cat, to solve their case, they were always told to come at evening hours. Some of them doubted, but they had no choice. When they went at evening hours, those who went could not return home. The cat used to eat them all so that none could pass the information.
Other rats could think those missing had gone to a distant place for hunting and went to Mr. Cat to solve another case for them. Once they arrived, the cat swallowed them and set its eyes on another group of rats to come with a case. The rats almost finished.
When they realised that the cat used to eat them, they called for a general meeting and the agenda was to tie a bell on the neck of a cat so that when it comes around, the bell on its neck could ring and the rats could run away. All the rats, including the disabled ones, gathered for a one-agenda meeting and the meeting commenced.
Each of them stood up and spoke with anger, branding what the cat did to them as something which could be done to those who have no hands and legs. None of them was happy with their leader Mr. Cat. After having unanimously agreed on the concern of protection, they embarked on the provision of a concrete solution.
Some rats said we should stage a revenge killing to retaliate for our deceased brothers and sisters, but others said, no, the attack might claim lives of our living brothers and sisters and that could be a new tragedy on top of the old one. Some suggested that we should change this cat and choose another one, but others said, as long as the one we are going to choose is still a cat and, not something else, it is going to eat us again.
But a majority came to an agreement with the solution that a bell be tied on the neck of a rat so that whenever it comes around searching for us, the bell on its neck could alert us and we run away for safety. They clapped their hands in an attempt to pass the solution.
But one rat was keeping quiet since the meeting started. The rats which seated next to it were suspicious that it might be a representative of the Cat. As the rats were about to disperse, it called for an attention as it stood up to say something. All the rats became attentive because it was somehow surprising why someone could keep quiet throughout the meeting and when an end was put to a meeting, it woke up and said it wanted to say something.
The rat said yes, all of us have agreed to tie the bell on the neck of a cat, but I want to ask a question, who is that one among us who is so brave to catch a cat and tie the bell on its neck? Have we become so stupid that we could not think of this major challenge, the wise rat continued scolding the foolish rats? Whoever comes closer to a cat to tie the bell becomes its delicious meal for the day, the wise rat continued.
The wise rat ended by saying, it is unfortunate that our individual strength to maintain our own safety could still be overwhelmed by the strength of a cat as well as our collective strength, but as I speak, I’m destined to protecting myself. The foolish rats nodded their heads and said we are destined to protecting ourselves individually too and they dispersed.
To date, the enmity of cats and rats is counting. Had rats agreed to shake off that burden and sacrificed to tie the bell on the neck of a cat, the cat could have eaten two of them and the rest could have managed to tie the bell so firmly. And that could have brought freedom to their unborn generations.
In relation to our situation, Mr. Cat is eating us, our property and our children’s, and no one is brave to tie the bell on his neck or tell him to give another cat a chance to lead. If someone grows bravery, he will be dealt with by his own people instead of being dealt with by the authority.
If we do not come together as one people facing a common challenge and agree on something to bring freedom to us and our children, we and our property will always be eaten and eaten and eaten and eaten.
The author is a medical student, University of Juba.