MIDWAY : Some mousy musings

Biswas Baral

When I planted myself in front of the computer today, I had little idea of what I would end up with. But, since I am the one forever urging others to write, to come up with novel ideas and to exercise their imaginations, if the exhorter himself should have trouble co-ming up with a decent pie-ce, he might as well suture all his fingers up. Decided, I looked around for inspiration. The first thing I saw was, of course, the mouse beside my keyboard.

A mouse is a typical modern day innovation that makes our otherwise keyboard based computer operations devilishly simple. Since Doug Engelbart of Stanford Research Institute in California first came up with the concept of mouse in 1963 — christening it for its similarity with the real rodent — its use and popularity have soared.

Talking about the real animal, I am at once reminded of Robert Burns, the 18th century English poet. In his poem ‘To a Mouse,’ the indigent poet compares his plight to that of a mouse, which, according to desolate Burns, is blessed: the unconcerned rodent detached from both its past and future. Poverty, and rodents, by no means, is only the province of the English, though. Chances are, scores of farmers will be seen scurrying to secure their barns and silos just on the mention of the riling pests in Nepal, where, it is estimated, rodents damage 10-15 per cent of the annual crop produce.

Interestingly, Walt Disney, while abroad a train headed for Los Angeles from New York, came with the idea of Mickey Mouse, the famous cartoon character, in 1928. When inquired about his choice of animal, he replied, “…a mouse is sort of a sympathetic character in spite of the fact that everybody’s frightened of a mouse including myself.” Tell that to a Nepali peasant!

And Hindu mythology is certainly not the place to look for solace. Mouse is the pet and transport of Ganesh, the God of power and wisdom. It is believed, in due time, a mouse evolves into an elephant — whose head Lord Ganesh bears — then, finally, into a human. If some ammunition should still remain hoisted to slam down on the tiny beasts of burden — hold! Mouse symbolises human soul inside the hole that is intellect. Unconvinced? To nihilism, then.