Okay, I’m making this story up…it’s kind of, sort of based on a bit of truth…
I knew a girl once, who had a big white pet rat called Normon. I don’t like rats in general. I was told by one of my spooky aunties that rats ate hair. This aunt had terrible, stringy, hair that always seemed dirty and wild. So, I figured, she was talking from experience.
Anyway, this girl brought Norman to school for a show and tell day. We were all around eleven and twelve years old. Old enough to be really dramatic and young enough to be super intrigued. Norman’s superpower was his ability to run free with other rats in the night and return to his cage in the morning. She proved this to us, by putting Norman outside the classroom door. She then went and stood in the far corner of the room and ordered someone to open the door. Then she whistled for Norman, and you wouldn’t believe it, but this rat came charging into the classroom causing the girls to scream and leap on their chairs, and ran straight to his owner!
This girl and I had a crush on the same boy: Aadira. Aadira was shy, yet the fastest boy on the athletics track. He had the most gorgeous brown eyes, shadowed by long dark eyelashes. He also had a dog called Harry. He brought Harry to school, for the same show and tell day. I had brought my cactus collection that was in flower.
Needless to say, I was far more interested in Harry the dog, than Norman the rat. But as fate would have it, Harry the dog, was far more interested in Norman the rat, than my amazing cactus collection. I didn’t stand a chance. Norman had way more action than my cacti, who sat in their little pots, bristling at the world.
Harry the dog and Norman the rat became good friends and well, Aadira and the girl I once knew were obliged to become friends.
I was young and hopelessly covetous. I confess. I was not born a saint. Quite the opposite in fact. So when this girl was admitted to hospital for Weil’s disease, the secondary phase of leptospirosis, I was sort of glad to be the one comforting Aadira.
I would sit next to him and share my lunch with him as he told me how much he missed this girl, and all the adventures they had over the holidays, like riding bikes and playing with Roger in the stream that ran past his house. Okay, I hated hearing about all of that, but it was a small price to pay, to have him that close to me, to have the occasional brush of his hand against mine. I hoped that girl would stay in hospital for a very long time.
But, that didn’t happen.
What happened was, Aadira got sick and landed up in hospital. The SAME hospital as that girl. Down the corridor from her ward.
Later, we heard the story from them as they stood hand in hand in front of the class, with Norman and Roger. Apparently, the doctor put two and two together. Namely, Norman and Roger, that girl and Aadira. Norman had picked up leptospirosis from hanging out with his night rat friends. He then spread it to his buddy Roger, and Roger in turn contaminated the stream that Aadira and that girl were playing in.
It’s years later now, and I still have my cacti collection. I also have Aadira… but that, folks, is a story for another time….
Please check out more awareness material on our Leptospirosis info page.