The butcher, the baker, the exterminator, all the usual suspects that make up a community can be found here in Jakarta. Unfortunately the exterminator has featured most in my life since my move to Indonesia.
Not being from a background in Ireland that was used to living with animals, although I doubt even the most indigenous of farmers ever had ewes, heifers or chickens lurking around in their kitchen.
There are three big issues with vermin in Jakarta, mice, rats and me. It would appear that Jakarta is almost the worst place in the world to be living if you have a phobia about mice and rats so when I found a suspiciously nibbled banana in the fruit bowl one morning, I prayed and hoped that someone in my family had taken to eating through banana skins in the middle of the night.
I have always had a hate/fear/phobia about the little critters (vermin not aforementioned family) to the point that I thought it couldn’t get any worse, I was wrong. It turns out that not alone do I have a non-exclusive fear of all mice and rats, I am also racist. I judge the mouse on his country of origin.
I look back on the days of old with fondness, when I stood on the kitchen table at home and screamed with fear over the tiny, fresh faced, field mouse that scrambled around, looking for safety. Nothing like the sewer rats and disease ridden mice that lurk in the murky open sewers of Executive Paradise in Jakarta watching their dodge to come into my kitchen. Unaccustomed as I am to bias and racial slurs, I here, bravely admit that a mouse from the Lee fields is more welcome than a mouse from the slums of Jakarta. Shocked at my discrimination I decided to give the vermin of Jakarta one last break, so rather than blaming the banana incident on a mouse (I daren’t entertain a rat) I called the exterminator and left the crime scene open for interpretation.
The hypothetical red tape was draped around the fruit bowl and I donned my curly courtroom wig to question the exterminator in full. Having watched a good deal of CSI I had an idea how to lead the witness, I opened, ‘What do you think ate the banana?’, ‘a mouse ma’am’, ‘don’t you think it could be a gecko, a team of ants or a cockroach?’, I cleverly cross-examined, ‘no ma’am, only mouse/rat eat banana’ he replied unflinchingly. ‘Surely not always, surely this could have been a civet cat, a squirrel or indeed a mongoose?’ I said, ‘no ma’am only mouse’. Quickly exhausting the list of animals around Jakarta but absolutely intent on not admitting it was a mouse, I finally finished with, ‘so you never saw anything else eat a banana, only a mouse, never’, ‘no, never’, he replied. He obviously had seen his fair share of CSI as well and was not going to wilt under pressure. As a last ditch effort to introduce some kind of doubt I said, ‘so how come I never see this so-called mouse, where is he all day?’, ‘often ma’am the mouse will wait for you to be asleep before he comes out’ was the reply. The thoughts of the mouse peeping around my bedroom door waiting for me to drop off to sleep was even worse, I felt manipulated, tricked.
The exterminator/ defendant pulled a large glue rat trap from his satchel, the DNA so to speak, in a matter of days the results would be in. I would no longer be able to kid myself that there wasn’t a mouse in the house, I had called his bluff, now the truth would be told. He was meeting my CSI with Jeremy Kyle. It didn’t help the picture on the trap was that of an elephant stuck to glue, I heard of rats as big as cats, but mice as big as elephants was surely an exaggeration.
The next day, the results were in, the trap was pulled from the ceiling space of the kitchen, and I asked the exterminator what it wasn’t rather than what it was, at least there would always be some doubt to cling to, the reply, ‘not a mongoose, not a civet cat, not a squirrel, not a cockroach or a gecko, not a lizard and …….not an Elephant, I rest my case ma’am’