A Ratical New Year

By Amy Chavez
For The Bali Times

Cong-rat-ulations! It’s the Chinese New Year and the Year of the Rat. The lowly rodent can look forward to enjoying an entire 12 months of celebrations and infestivities. As a matter of fact, I spied on a few of them the other day, at an international conference in the field of rat research taking place in the basement of a swank hotel in Nusa Dua. The goal of the conference was to discuss how to bring about ratical change in 2008 while hopefully improving the image and reputation of the rat.

The moderator of the conference was Ratu Pantai Selatan, the Indonesian goddess of the South Seas. The participants of the conference were not normal rats, but bureaurats. They came from over 50 countries, including the farm minister of Russia, Mr. Ratsputin, immigration expert Speedy Gonzales from Mexico, Stewart Little, a literary figure and adventurist from the US, along with his compatriots City Mouse and Country Mouse, Three Blind Mice from England, a delegation of pack rats from, of course, Pakistan, and various delegations of field mice from around the world — all experts in their fields. Here is summary of each candidate’s aspirations for the New Year.

Ratu Pantai Selatan: First, I’d like to commend the rats on their progress in technology. The computer mouse has come a long way since 1996, the last Year of the Rat. They have moved from cords to the wireless mouse and I hope they will continue improving the image of the rat through technology.

I have a new report on global warming. Reports from water rats and sewer rats confirms my own research findings that the seas are rising by rata-rata 3 millimeters per year, which will lead to flooding and destruction of the rats’ habitats. They seek a rational solution to the crisis.

Country Mouse: I’d like to bring attention to the work done to preserve our ancient rituals, such as grain hoarding and maintaining socially agreeable behavior. I’d like to see a movement back to the three pillars of healthy living: to beg, burrow and steal. I would also like to see better healthcare in the countryside, noting the shortage of rodentists.

Pack Rats: We hope to clean up the rat image destroyed by the ratical extremists threatening to take over the world and reclaim Tailaban.

Ratsputin: We hope to ratify more treaties on trade between Asia and European countries, especially to imports of exotic cheeses.

Three Blind Mice: We want more rights for disabled mice, including tenchi block on sidewalks and walls in buildings.

Ratu Pantai Selatan: We have a special guest this afternoon, the Super Rat, who has flown in on the new Airbus 380. A new species to science, just discovered in the Foja Mountains of Papua, this is the Super Rat’s first appearance in Bali.

Stewart Little: Cheesus, look at his size!

City Mouse: He’s five times the size of a city rat.

The conference personnel bring in extra chairs to accommodate the 1.4-kilogram rodent.

Country Mouse: He looks furrocious.

Super Rat: Thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak at the tail end of this conference. There is no need to be afraid of me. But there is something that has really been gnawing at me lately. After having attended the United Nations Conference on Climate Change here in Bali in December, I can tell you that this global warming problem could be very serious for us.

Speedy Gonzales: Ándale! ¡Ándale! ¡Arriba! ¡Arriba!

Super Rat: We will need to increasingly rely on our scavenging skills to find food in the future. We must diligently hoard food so as to have a sufficient supply as some day we may have to squeak by on rations of crumbs. As the humans recycle and compost more, we are at a danger of finding less and less food. With the cutting down of the rainforests, Super Rats like myself are losing our habitats, which means we will be forced into the cities.

City Rat: We already have a problem of overcrowding in the cities. We cannot have more rats emigrating to join the rat race. Especially big ones. Imagine the huge mouse holes we’d have to build.

Ratu Pantai Selatan: We will now break for lunch and continue with the afternoon session: Common Mouse-traps: Over-Breeding and Medical Research.

Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Sammy Davis Jr. croon in the background as the rats scurry off to a lunch in the hotel’s kitchen.

When they arrive at the kitchen, however, they find that they’re food has been pilfered — by the tikus pemerintah (government rats). But not all is lost. Speedy Gonzales manages to find a bottle of arak and they all have a drink for lunch.

They arrive back at the conference in very much the condition you may have felt after celebrating the Chinese New Year – as tikus gila.

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