The last year I was at Kopan I lived in Joseph’s house, a goat shed that had been converted for human living. It contained one room and an attic, accessed by a ladder, that I used as bedroom.
In the house there was also living a rat and a small but fierce shrew. They didn’t like each other and often at night they would wake me up with their chasing around and the shrew’s piercing screams. They had made their tunnels inside the walls, which were made of stones set in mud.
One night when I was sitting on the floor eating by the light of a candle I saw the shrew and I kept very quiet. He came up to my plate, which was on the floor, and took a small helping of my food. I kind of liked the shrew; it was the rat that was a problem. He stole paper to build his nest and one time the paper was a $120 check. He also stole food and it didn’t matter where I tried to secure it; he would find a way to get it. When I had the food in a basket suspended from the ceiling in the middle of the room he apparently climbed up on a shelf and jumped from there over to the basket. Anyway the food was gone!
I was at my wits end. I must keep him busy, I thought, and that night, before I went to bed, I threw a handful of rice from the trapdoor. It worked! No more fighting, no more stealing! I guess it took him and the shrew the whole night to collect all the grains of rice. After that I daily offered a handful of rice to my housemates and we lived peacefully together to the end of my stay.
Tonight I am flying to Denmark. I am bringing my laptop but my posting will be less regular during the month I am there.