Celebrating East African Writing!
I have a pet rabbit. I’ve had him for about a year now. A cousin of mine gave him to me as a gift when he (the rabbit) was only two months old. He has red eyes and silky white fur, a short poufy tail, and long droopy ears. His name is Osama.
I named him so because he has a grey beard – long stiff spikes of fur under his chin – much like that of the Saudi guy the Americans can’t seem to catch.
Osama, my pet rabbit, ran away from his hutch two months ago. This made me sad. I terribly miss him.
I’m not certain why he ran away; or exactly where he ran off to. What if he’s dead? Maybe a stray dog caught him and ate him.
Before he run away Osama had spent a couple of days repeatedly kicking the wooden walls of his hutch. On informing my mom about this, she said that since he was male and had attained a certain age, his hormones were boiling in his veins and that he wanted to be close to a rabbit girl; spend quality time with her.
I’m sure it’s not the quality of food that I gave him that made him ran away. (Whenever my mom went to the fresh produce market, I usually reminded her to buy some carrots for Osama.) I am a responsible and caring pet owner. There’s no question about this fact.
Osama, like most rabbits, absolutely loves bright orange carrots. The bumpier the surface of the carrot, the ‘meatier’ it is. This is Osama’s philosophy on carrots.
He especially loves cold carrots that’ve been stored in the fridge for a day or two. Warm carrots are a dietary no-no.
The first thing I used to do early in the mornings before he ran away was to go to his hutch, which is located under the eaves behind our house, and open the hutch’s door and check if he’s okay.
I usually made sure that I had a breakfast snack ready for him. Once I made the cluck-cluck-cluck sound that whetted his appetite, and handed Osama a cold carrot which I’d just retrieved from the fridge, he grabbed it between his front paws and stood on his powerful hind legs. You should have seen him.
He looked so funny standing on his hind legs – his torso vertical, his alert ears drooping lethargically over the sides of his face, his long whiskers bobbing as he chewed food.
“Ha ha ha,” I couldn’t help but laugh. What if I trained him to walk upright like a circus bear that I once saw on TV.
Osama usually starts off eating a carrot by biting and removing the green leafy end of it. He carefully tucks the green leafy foliage in the corner of the hutch. “I’ll munch on that later,” the wizened expression on his face seems to say.
Still holding the carrot between his front paws, he turns it so that the sharp end of it faces his mouth – the ever-present little string at the front of the carrot dangling. He stares at it and salivates.
He relishes this last moment before he takes the first bite. He compares this last moment to the mysterious but marvelous moment before one falls asleep – sort of a fairy bridge connecting the tangible world with dream world.
After savouring the mystery of ‘the last moment’, Osama opens his mouth and takes a large bite of the fresh cold carrot. The chunk of carrot is cold and sweet inside his mouth.
“Oooh, the deliciousness is out of this world!”
He begins to chew; slowly at first so as to chop up the large chunk into smaller workable bits. His long whiskers bob rapidly as he increases the pace of his chewing. He partially closes his eyes to allow his mind to block all other wayward thoughts and totally concentrate on this most pleasant of tasks.
By now the cud has lost its sumptuous coldness and adapted to the warmth of his mouth. Osama is restless to take another bite. He doesn’t even wait to swallow the first mouthful.
Using his front paws, he usually spins the cylindrical carrot around so that the chunks of bites he takes are in the form of 3mm thick discs. Am not sure how he measures the discs, but it’s possible he uses his long front teeth.
His elongated front upper and lower teeth are for slicing things into smaller pieces, while his molars are for grinding. His pink coarse tongue helps in rolling the chewed up stuff in his mouth.
Apart from dozing, Osama’s favourite pastime is chewing up things – not necessarily eating. He chews pieces of wood, plastic, rubber and he’s even tried to chew on metal. (His front teeth almost broke.) This fact has always fascinated me about rabbits. His long stiff whiskers are always moving about, as if there’s something in his mouth, yet I have not seen him put anything in the mouth.
Rabbits, like owls, are reclusive and mysterious. But owls are just too spooky for my liking. I would never keep an owl as a pet; no, not me.
I don’t like dogs – too loud, too outgoing and they eat greedily. I don’t like cats – too aloof and proud and individualistic. I generally cannot stand animals that can raise their tails – baboons, warthogs, et cetera. Their waste doesn’t smell good.
But rabbits are cool. The coolest animals in the whole animal kingdom. I am particularly in love with their droopy ears.
You see, a rabbit is dependant upon you to build it a hutch, to feed it and provide it with water, and to clean its hutch whenever it gets dirty. I relish the feeling that I am needed by someone or something. Most humans are like this.
Today when I woke up in the morning, I knelt beside my bed and prayed to Jehovah and asked him to help me find Osama. Because I missed his friendship so much, I told Him.
After washing my face, I went outside to the back of the house, as I customarily did when the rabbit was still living in the wooden hutch I’d built for him. Upon checking on the door of the hutch, I saw that it was open. On looking inside, to my disappointment, I didn’t find the white-furred, red-eyed, droopy-eared rabbit.
But there was something on the hutch’s doorstep. Small spherical black things. Fresh rabbit droppings!
On looking closely I saw that there was a trail of droppings leading away from the hutch’s door to the edge of the hedge fence. I also noticed fresh and old rabbit paw marks on the soft earth under the hedge fence.
Hunched over and with my eyes wide in concentration, I strode slowly beside the edge of the fence, following the trail of droppings and the numerous paw marks.
“I think I know where Osama is hiding!” I thought in jubilation as I neared the ninety degree corner of the fence where there was a raised lump of hardened soil beside which was the small mouth of a den.
The den was once an ant hill and colony but the ants had abandoned it; moved elsewhere. My mom had told me to fill it up with soil so as to discourage a snake from taking residence. I must’ve forgotten to do that.
I carefully squatted beside the raised hardened mound of earth and gazed into the mouth of the den. And guess what I saw?
Whiskers! Yes, long bobbing whiskers; similar to those of a rabbit chewing something.
Swiftly I knelt down and gazed closely into the mouth of the den while making the cluck-cluck-cluck sound I used to make when bringing Osama a fresh cold carrot from the fridge.
Lo and behold, guess who stepped proudly out of the mouth of the den?
Yes, bearded Osama! (What is it with things called Osama and their penchant for caves?) Anyway, as soon as the white-furred rabbit came out of the den, and I was happily patting and stroking his back, other rabbits soon emerged from the same den – a large brown female hare and seven baby rabbits of mixed colours.
There was a rabbit of brown/white and a pure white, a black/white and a pure black, a grey/white and a pure grey and a pure brown.
Pleasantly surprised and awed by the baby rabbits’ vulnerable cuteness, I sat down on the grass and carefully lifted the babies onto my lap and proceeded to gently stroke them. (They were about the same size as Osama when he was given to me.) The baby rabbits nestled together in my lap as Osama and his wife, the hare, closely watched me, their long whiskers bobbing on their snouts as they chewed something.
Thank you Jehovah!
Now I need to find names for seven babies and their mother.
© Denis Kabi 2009 www.deniskabi.wordpress.com
If you would like this piece to be the Story of the Week, please vote below on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being weak, and 10 being excellent. The numbers will be tallied on Friday and the story with the highest figure shall be Crowned Story of the Week. Be sure to fill in your name and verifiable email. You can include your critique/comment after the vote.