Monday 10 August 2020

Small Things Big Trouble

Our actions, whether big or small do have consequences and we can never be quite sure what they will be...


I recently read a quote of the Dalai Lama which made me smile.

‘If you think small things don't matter, try spending the night with a mosquito in your room...’

Neeya Zzzzzzzzz… bye-bye, sleep!

Well, I have spent lots of nights with mosquitoes in my rooms so I am very much moved by the wisdom of these words.

Small things can lead to bigger things and unexpected outcomes…

But I must first explain how my story came about.

Several years ago, an Indian friend wanted to give me a birthday gift.

He had obviously taken considerable trouble to choose something that was extra special and when he delivered it I could see how excited and thrilled he was with his choice.

His sense of anticipation was palpable and it immediately set the alarm bells in my brain ringing and whirring.

He contrived to turn the ‘gift-giving’ ceremony into quite an occasion. He had appeared on my doorstep at 6 o’clock in the morning!

However, being an early riser myself, I could take this in my stride.

As soon as I opened the door he rushed inside and placed a box on the counter with exaggerated care and turned to me with an expression, not unlike that of an eager little puppy. He was fairly wriggling with excitement, anxiously watching my every move and expression.

Getting into the mood of things I turned my attention to the brightly gift-wrapped package and with great care began to remove the ribbons and undo the colourful paper in which the whole thing had been lovingly wrapped.

Inside I found a, well, how to describe it?

A plastic lotus flower thingy...

It was the sort of house ornament that one could only find the likes of in India or China!

It had four large outer petals and inside these, sprang another four psychedelic pink and green petals which were arranged within a circle of tiny red and yellow light bulbs. From underneath and around the petals appeared small plastic frogs, birds, bees and butterflies of all sizes, colours and varieties...

He urged me to press a bright button on the bottom. Even though his expression alerted me to expect something extraordinary I was not quite prepared for the sudden startling flashing of lights and the explosion of sounds that burst forth from that little box.

It was loud enough to rouse the entire three-story building from any remnants of lingering sleepiness. An embellished electronic version of Jingle Bells filled the air. And while the tune rang out the light bulbs flashed in time with the music and the plastic insect life bobbed up and down in unison.

My friend leapt into the air giving it a bit of a punch at the same time as if to say, YES! Then, he dissolved into a fit of laughter.

That unforgettable gift had pride of place on my kitchen shelf for some years and then one day, very recently while I was spring cleaning, I decided it might be time for the ‘gift’ to grace someone else's home or shrine.

My friend happened to be present and was helping me with my clean up, so I suggested he might take it back to his ashram where it could be prominently displayed and enjoyed by many. He agreed readily enough.

Now the reason for my unseasonal spring cleaning was the arrival of an unwelcome intruder, a very tiny, but extremely industrious mouse. I had spotted her on a number of occasions even though she was just an itsy bitsy little thing.

She was quite unafraid of me and if I had been on my guard I could probably have evicted her much sooner. But, as luck would have it, the minute I wanted her out, she disappeared.

This little rodent had singlehandedly chomped her way through a number of my best articles of clothing, shredded a pile of newspapers, eaten through some wiring near my computer and left her calling cards all over my apartment.

That such a small mouse could single-handedly create so much mayhem in such a short time was something of a wonder.

In the face of such astonishingly determined feats of nest making, I decided she had to go and I was hoping that a good clean up might flush the little villain out after which I could carefully block all possible future entry points.

That very year, I had brought with me a fancy electronic gadget, which I had purchased on a trip to Australia. It was supposed to blast such intruders with unpleasant subliminal frequencies and vibrations, sending them scuttling outdoors.

But it turned out to be a miserable failure. My little visitor had comfortably settled herself in and appeared to be anticipating a long and happy stay.

There was nothing for it but to go carefully through everything in order to find her hiding place and promptly evict her. But besides a trail of devastation and mouse droppings, we could not discover the little tyrant.

Eventually, I decided, rather optimistically, that she might already have fled unnoticed during our noisy cleanup operation.

We had gone through everything, or so we thought. We could do no more and it was time for my helpful friend to go. I snatched up the box which had the plastic lotus flower inside, not wanting him to leave without it and eager to free up some space on my shelf.

We arranged it with some ceremony inside his bag and off he went on his bicycle.

Several hours later I got an excited phone call. It was my friend calling from his ashram.

An inquisitive guest had noticed the box containing the infamous ‘lotus’ and had been overcome with curiosity as to what might be inside.

A small audience gathered around all eager to discover its contents.

As my friend looked up from his work he happened to notice something that looked rather like a mouse’s tail dangled down from the back of the contraption even as it was pulled from the box, but he was too late to intervene.

From beneath a pink lotus petal leapt the little monster. She had apparently been taking a snooze in between the lotus leaves. Thus rudely awakened from her nap, she leapt straight onto the unsuspecting, innocent guest’s face and then scrambled down the front of his shirt.

Pandemonium broke out. The men yelled in surprise the women screamed and the children shrieked with delight. The silence and ambient calm of the ashram were thoroughly shattered.

Meanwhile, the hero of our story managed to wriggle out from her victim's trouser leg and make a swift and fortunate exit.

Whereupon she was never seen again…

The 'motto' of this story is, of course, NEVER underestimate 'small things!’

To be sure, even the tiniest of things can unleash the most unexpected chain of circumstances…