Sibongile Mafu

The rat race

2013-10-10 08:00

Sibongile Mafu

Very few things traumatise me. You know, those things that make you paralytic with fear and sometimes leave your normal human bodily functions functioning at the wrong time. This past weekend I was tested, and for a second I thought an incognito episode of Fear Factor was being filmed in my home as I encountered one of the most devastating events of my life - a rat had infiltrated my home.

It was a normal Sunday morning. I was asleep in my bed. I suddenly awoke at about 03:00 to a rustling sound. Now, living in Cape Town with the wind and the unJoburg-like weather, waking up to noises is not headline-making news, but something was different.

The sound was coming from within my home. I was disorientated, maybe it was in my head, and I was still dreaming. But it continued, relentlessly. I sat up and switched my bedside light on, because light gives answers. I realised that the sound was coming from my waste bin. Something was alive in my waste bin. I closed the plastic bag that was in the waste bin, not knowing what creature had made it its home and proceeded to dump it into the trash can in the kitchen. I calmly went back to back to bed, not knowing what horrors were about to be unleashed.

About 20 minutes later I was confronted with a reality that I had not envisioned or mentally prepared for. I was alone in the house (my housemate was devouring her youth at Rocking the Daisies, completely unaware of the Nightmare on Elm Street that would become my weekend). I switched my bedside lamp on again and crept out of my bed, knowing and not knowing what I would be faced with.

My kitchen is to the right of my bedroom, and I can see into it from my bedroom door without exiting it. I peered to my right and there it was, scurrying, scampering and scuttling through the most precious place in my home, completely unaware of the terror it was evoking. I shut my door with a speed Usain Bolt would envy and ran into bed. The battle had not been won. I could still hear it. Living in my space. Enjoying my things.

I went on a live-tweeting spree, looking for answers about what my next step should be, hoping that I’d get some kind of cyber support. It never came. I had no choice but to flee. I sent a message to a friend and evacuated my home, leaving the rat behind.

I used the Sunday to gather my thoughts, or in this case, wander around Canal Walk buying unnecessary things as well as rat poison to deal with the vermin, but also thinking of ways to have to confront it. Maybe this was a test. Maybe I didn’t see the rat and this was all in my mind. But I bought the rat poison anyway and drove back home with the intention of dealing with my biggest fear head on.

I never exited my car. I was a statue. I called my friend again, and fled to her place to gather my thoughts and plot my next move. I'd spent the past 12 hours Googling ways to attack this enemy; this was a smart enemy and I knew I could not go at it alone. I waited for my housemate to return, and we decided to let the poison do the work. We went to the house, and threw rat poison everywhere like it was holy water. It was a proper cleansing. We didn't hear or see the rat so I felt comfortable sleeping in the house.

I grew more confident not knowing where it was or if it was even still there, only to find it several days later, dead in my bathroom. It was indeed a rat, a fat rat. It lay motionless on my tiles and I could only shake my head at how such creature could cause such chaos.

Was this my Oprah "AHA moment"? Confronting my fear and vanquishing the enemy? Or maybe I just need to move.

- Sibongile is a videographer, blogger and social media enthusiast who would be nothing without her thumbs. Follow her on Twitter: @SboshMafu.

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