Posted: August 16, 2013 in Short stories, starts & writing, Travel writing

There’d been no sign of the squirrels for a week or more.
“Perhaps they’re just sick of papaya and have gone off to find something different to eat for a while”, I thought. They had seemed to have been subsisting on nothing but papaya since we moved into this house nearly two months ago after all.
But I worried that they’d in fact met with some grizzly end, exterminated in some horribly inhumane way by the man that tends the fruit trees in the vacant lot next door.
I’ve grown quite cynical of the locals when it comes to their treatment of all creatures, great and small.
Even pets seem to be, (very) generally speaking, treated fairly poorly here. Pet dogs kept in small, heavily barred cages and only let out occasionally so they can be tethered to a pole by their leads while their cages are hosed out. Pet turtles kept in plastic tubs with a chunk of rock they’re unable to climb up on to so they just wallow around in their own excrement. Birds of every size, shape and colour are to be enjoyed in cages, not in the wild. How could you possibly hear them sing if they’re in the wild?
Feral and wild animals are all treated the same: either ignored, seen as food, or classed as pests. Feral cats are everywhere but are apparently tolerated (to a certain extent) for they have the ability to manage vermin. But cats too can also be exterminated in horribly inhumane ways. We never were too sure what became of the litter of flea-ridden kittens in Yogya. Just like I’m not too sure of the eventual fate of the kitten I saw grabbed roughly by the scuff of the neck and put into the rubbish man’s cart full of refuse as he collected the neighbourhood’s garbage.
So I’d envisaged dessiccated squirrel carcasses lying in some mouldering rubbish pile somewhere, or made into some stringy, watery kind of soup purported to prevent something ridiculous like diabetes, headaches, athlete’s foot and cancer of the elbow! The best I could hope for would be that the little buggers had been killed instantly by a well aimed shot from a pellet-gun.
So I was heartened to find one morning that the large, ripe papaya bulging out of the half-dozen green fruit way up the top of the tree had been hollowed out during the night. But I wasn’t completely convinced. I’d not actually seen the squirrels. Come to think of it, I hadn’t just not seen them for a week or so, I hadn’t heard their angry little chittering for a couple of weeks either. And the papaya could’ve been eaten by rats.
Imagine my joy when I awoke to hear a squirrel chirping away outside my bedroom window this morning! Rushing to the kitchen window, there was one of the scrawny little things bounding along the top of the wall in the backyard. So they had just wanted a change from eating all that papaya.
Fair enough too. I don’t like papaya much either.


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