Oh, do I feel bad right now.
I reported my rat problem to work. They were dismissive at first, assuring me it was only cats, but when I brought someone round to hear the squeaking they agreed that I had rats.
However, rather than spend money on ‘dératisation’ (the French language can be great sometimes!) they decided to deal with the problem themselves. The roof was inspected and three entry holes found, and these were blocked with pieces of foam, which I was told should do the trick.
Over the weekend, however, I could still hear plenty of movement above my head; it seemed they had broken their way through the foam and got back into the roof. We would need dératisation after all. Work was busy today and I forgot to raise the issue. But when I got home my maid was waiting for me, to tell me the bad news. On the ceiling, along the join between two panels (just inside the largest of the blocked entry holes), was a foot-long reddish brown stain, and despite having had all the doors and windows open all afternoon, there was a foul smell of decaying flesh in the house.
The openings into the roof were still blocked, and some poor creature(s) had spent three days trapped in a hot roof without water, slowly dying of thirst. I had only wanted to deny the rats their play-space, so that their noise wouldn’t keep me awake at night, but in fact I had indirectly caused dreadful suffering and slow death.
It is at times like this when I envy those with a religious faith. How I wish I had someone I could apologise to for this, to whom I could somehow make amends and then be forgiven.
But as I sit out in my courtyard straining to write this by the dying evening light (we only get electricity for some 6 hours a day now, and never in the evenings) I am being bitten to pieces. If I have just caught malaria it will be no more than I deserve.