The Bagpiper

A satirical fictional piece, I wrote during a plague epidemic,in India, 1992. Maybe there are some parallels with this Pandemic….


Little Munno looked dapper in his yellow suit. His navy blue tie was speckled with triangular pieces of bright yellow cheese. He adjusted his tie yet again, before marching out to the conference. He felt important. Wasn’t he smart, curious and the most handsome of them all? Also he couldn’t wait to see his friends Rinku, Langdu and Pinky. His heart fluttered at the thought of Pinky. She was poised and beautiful. Munno had asked her out earlier for a walk in the moonlit night, but Pinky’s response had been rather cool… cool as a cucumber.

Their chief, big fat Baltaram (large bucket) would be there too. He often dozed off during important meetings. This was for the better, because then his whimsical advisor, old Nammy would take charge of the meetings. Munno soon reached the conference hall. It was beautiful, even though it was underground. It was lit up with little lanterns hung all over. There was also so much cheese lying around, that if everyone finished it, they wouldn’t be hungry for three days.

The conference was full of important folks from all over the world. Ah! There was Pinky on the podium wearing a black gown with a red ribbon running across it and a beautiful red rose behind her ear. She stood there, elegantly holding a microphone. Munno couldn’t help but admire her, all over again.

“Ladies and Gentle-rats! Please stand up and wag your tails in appreciation of our beloved chief, Mr. Baltaram,” Pinky announced.

Baltaram sauntered up to the podium with a pompous look on his face, He was utterly ridiculous in his overly large black suit, his long tail wrapped in a bow that was crafted from a piece of orange satin ribbon. Little Tina held the ribbon in her delicate paws. Without warning, Baltaram grabbed the mike from Pinky and started blaring, “ Ladies and gentle-rats, as you all know we have gathered here to discuss the serious issues of our ever declining population. You see ever since Plague hit us…mmmmmm.”

“Excuse me Chief! What is Plague?? Asked Munno.

Baltaram was annoyed. Plus he didn’t know what to say, so he gathered all his wits and sputtered, “Err Plague…. Bubonic plague …… Pneumonic Plague!”

“But, what is Plague?’ Munno asked again.

By now Baltaram was thunderously angry, the orange bow that held his tail shook vigorously and he gave Munno a glare. He didn’t even bother to hide his anger. But Nammy stepped up to the podium in style; she was wearing a bright yellow skirt complemented by a metallic silver color blouse. A long string of shiny pearls adorned her slender neck. She twirled her pearl necklace as she said, “Plague is an infectious disease caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis. However, it is humans that get sick and now they are hopping mad at us rats. They think we caused it, so they are even more angry and scared of us, than usual.”

”Are we so scary?” Munno asked, worrying that Pinky also found him scary.

Nammy gave a wry smile and continued, “You see! I find it rather strange that some humans have resorted to burying us or burning us alive, instead of simply beating us to death.”

“Isn’t that stylish though?” remarked Munno

“No it isn’t! You see we became immune to beatings and the disinfectant sprays, the humans used on us, for so long. We still managed to escape death, though a few dumb rats always died. But now how do we develop immunity to being buried or burned? If this keeps up, we will all be dead”, said Nammy looking sad and worried.

“That is impossible Uh! We rats have survived for centuries together; no one can wipe us out.“ Said Munno, as he thumped his chest with his left paw.

“After all we are the ultimate vermins of this earth. This earth belongs to us!” Munno emphasized

“How can anyone dare trying to wipe us out?” Yelled out an energized Baltaram, he puffing up his chest. Apparently, his quick nap had refreshed him.

“The humans can do it to us sir,” said Rinku, his voice quivering with fright

“Look at us! We are all still around!” said Munno defiantly tone

Rinku started explaining how a big, tall, menacing looking human had doused him in a spray that smelled horrible, “I almost died!”, said Rinku with a quiver in his voice, “I… I was unconscious for hours.”

“I will get rid of all humans!” roared Baltaram.

Nammy fished out a bottle of Whiskey, handed it to Baltaram and said, “Relax! Let me take care of this meeting.”

“This is a serious issue! How do we save our lives?” she said.

“Well!” said Pinky, clearing her throat, “I wish Pied Piper could come and play his pipe. We could all follow him to a place, where no human shall ever find us!”

“Poor Langdu, he has only two real legs. He may have to stay back. How sad!” winced Pinky.

“Who shall be our Pied Piper?” asked a worried-looking Rinku

“ME of course!“ hiccupped Baltaram, by now totally drunk

“Me … hic… Me Bagpiper! Me Pied Piper! Whiskey! Come on follow me!” he yelled, holding his bottle like a pipe, before losing his balance and falling over.

“Eh listen to me. The Pied Piper is just a fairy tale, but it is a nice idea. If only we could find a place to go to.” Nammy said.

Just then Langdu quickly hopped on to the podium and said, “We can all go to Deshnoke.”

“Where is Deshnoke?” asked Munno

‘Deshnoke is faraway; it will take us one whole week of scampering to get there. But we can do it.”

“But why Deshnoke?” asked Pinky

“There is a Karni Mata temple there, where they worship and feed rats. When I was there last year, they worshipped me too”, said Langdu with a smile

“Oooh!” they all cooed

“There can be no place safer than Deshnoke then. Let’s all move, with all our cheese and baggage”. Rinku said, looking relieved.

“Cheese? The Cheese is stale! You get so much fresh milk every day served in a silver bowl in Deshnoke.” Langdu sneered.

They all squealed in delight

“There is no time to lose now. We must start our journey to Deshnoke right now.” Said Nammy

“What about chief Baltaram?” asked Pinky, with concern

“Leave him here! Good riddance anyway,” said Nammy with a twinkle in her eye

“Oh! we can all take turns supporting Langdu, starting with me” volunteered Munno

“I am fine, I can manage well with my two real paws and two wooden paws!” exclaimed Langdu

“Yes we can! Off to Deshnoke!”, they all squealed in delight

Together, they began their march to Deshnoke, with Langdu in the lead. As for Baltaram, who knows what happened…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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