We woke up to find a rat in our bed the night that Satish's ceiling caved in.
"Ben!" Aliyah screamed. "Wake up! There's a mouse in our bed!"
I snapped into consciousness just in time to see a furry shadow scurry off the bed and out the door. I jumped up, slammed the lights on and began to prowl for vermin.
"Where'd it go?" I said, voice shaking, as I squinted one eye and pressed a cheek to the marble floor, looking beneath the bed we had just shared with a rat.
"There was a mouse in our bed," Aliyah managed, her very-justifiable fear made slightly comical by the two retainers muffling her enunciation.
"There wath a mouth in our bed," she repeated.
I didn't have the heart to tell her our visitor was no mouse, but instead a rat the size of a Hyundai Santa Fe. Nor did I mention that it probably had The Plague.
"Thank God it didn't bite me," I said, adding quickly, "Did it bite you?"
Absent Plague-infected punctures, Aliyah and I began our search in earnest. I held a small green flashlight keychain that I had bought at a hardware store in Manhattan. Aliyah shivered behind me as the small beam of light searched for the rat. No sign of him.
I escorted Aliyah to the hallway bathroom and continued to search. I scanned our bedroom again, then the sitting room. Nothing. I sighed, remembering how earlier in the evening the monsoon had soaked the ceiling of Satish's bedroom so much that chunks of Plaster of Paris fell at our feet. I had thought that was bad.
"Welcome to India," I muttered to myself as I moved, flashlight in hand, from the sitting room to the small shower room adjoining it. And there he was. The rat.
The rat was the size of a cat.
It stooped low over the wide drain of the shower's tile floor. Black sludge was visible just below. The metal grate that had separated humans in the shower from sewer sludge rats sat limply beside the hole, clearly vanquished by the Super Rat.
I gagged. This was no ordinary rat that had been in our bed. It had crawled out of the sewer. And not the sewer in Long Island. The sewer in India.
But for all my disgust, I couldn't kill or injure the rat. So I simply shut the door and hoped it would crawl back down the hole it came through (it did). I just couldn't kill it.
Though I wouldn't have minded if someone else did.