Musharraf Ali Farooqi Illustrations & lyrics by
t i b ab ap
RABBIT RAP a NOVEL
Musharraf Ali Farooqi Illustrations & Lyrics by Michelle Farooqi
Text copyright © Musharraf Ali Farooqi, 2011 Illustrations and lyrics copyright © Michelle Farooqi, 2011
CHAPTER 1 Which is really only an excerpt from The Lapin Dystopia, one of the late Professor Smulflem Noksâ€™s better known works, and quoted here for the admirable way in which it delineates the background of this narrative
he post-predatorial age was ushered in by the pesticide UB-Next. Originally meant to wardoff crop-eating weevils, the furry carnivores seemed to be its real target. All of them who came in contact with it died from a mysterious skin disorder. Organic farmers and animal rights groups protested the use of UB-Next, but the damage had already been done. Within a matter of months the pesticide wiped out entire populations of badgers, coyotes, foxes, stoats, wolves, wolverines and ferrets. The survivors disappeared deep underground into the multi-story garbage disposal dungeons. The greatest beneficiaries of UB-Next were the rabbits. It had no adverse effect on them: though furry they were not carnivores. Moreover, the rabbits were the biggest farm-owners. The pesticide not only eliminated the weevil threat, it rid the rabbits of their main predators as well. Even after the effects of
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UB-Next were known, the board members of the Lapin Alliance for Progressive Sowing Endeavors (LAPSE) refused to curtail its use. It turned out to be an exceptionally good year for the rabbits. The attacks by predator birds also ceased. Toward the end of spring when such attacks peaked, only three were reported from the entire region. That was an unusual occurrence. The very best rabbit minds were engaged to ponder it. The mystery was soon resolved. A year earlier a new system had been introduced on the fish farms to stop accidental product loss. The fish were now exclusively farmed, as high toxin levels in rivers and seas made marine life untenable. With the world population yearly expanding to new extremes, every fish counted. Great care was taken to contain accidental loss. It pit the Fishermen of Urban Lands (FOUL) against certain bird species who had not given up their old world taste for seafood. Cormorants, eagles, kites, hawks and owls continued hunting illegally on the fish farms. An ingenious, bird-behavior-altering technology, Sky-Fry, was scienceâ€™s answer to their ravages.
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The laser-guided system roasted any bird, feathers and all, if it came within a meter of the water’s surface.
Again the organic farmers and animal rights activists were in uproar. They called the Sky-Fry system morally questionable. They pointed out its failure to alter the flying and swooping patterns of birds. Their protests, however, waned before the enthusiasm of FOUL with whom the system was an instant success. It eminently served its purpose. Each fish farm where it had been installed reported an average monthly saving of twenty fish. That translated to an additional forty to fifty meals. There’s no arguing with solid mathematical projections for world hunger alleviation. Soon the laser-guided Sky-Fry silos were installed on every
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farm. The predatory bird numbers were greatly depleted as a consequence. Some stray ducks, geese and mallards also paid the ultimate price for imprudent landing choices, but the good news was that none of them died in vain: each Sky-Fried bird-drop added valuable nutritional supplements to the water in which the fish were raised. Meanwhile, with the decrease in the number of aerial predators, the rabbits had benefited again from the advances in agri-tech. They were the majority shareholders of both UB-Next and the Sky-Fry corporations.â€?
CHAPTER 2 In which is introduced the exceptional Rabbit Hab whose progressive bent of mind brought about many marvelous events attended by equally marvelous consequences
n order not to appear ungrateful, the jowly, big-boned chairman of the Lapin Alliance, Rabbit Hab, wrote a letter of appreciation to the manufacturers of UB-Next. Secretly, he also hoped they would send him a complimentary bottle or two of the famous pesticide. Instead, Rabbit Hab received a visit the following week by the UB-Next Director of Sales, Rabbit Fud. He discussed the various needs of Habâ€™s farm with him in the morning, and visited the Lapin Alliance head office where he met all the board members. In the evening Fud invited Hab to the local country club as his guest for a game of golf. Hab was not sure whether to accept the invitation. A year earlier, he had applied for membership at the same club and was refused. He filed an appeal against the decision and that, too, was turned down.
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It was a bad business. Hab had told no one about it. He continued as before to play at the farmersâ€™ club where the course was uneven and the grass quality abysmal, but golf no more quite felt like golf. Hab did not wish to disappoint Fud who was a friendly, bluff fellow. Despite his reservations, he accepted the invitation.
Hab was usually a decent golfer, with a double digit handicap. But that day at the country club he was at the bottom of his game. Often he looked around longingly at the lush, velvety grass and the soft, smooth course that stretched for miles. He felt murderous envy for those privileged to play there. Hab could not concentrate. Every time he swung his club, he either hit dirt or altogether missed.
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Hab was leaving the club after casting one last, long, rueful glance when someone tapped him on the shoulder. It was the club secretary. He gave Hab an envelope. Inside was Hab’s membership card. The secretary explained there had been a mistake in processing Hab’s application the previous year. To compensate for that Hab was offered free membership for a full twelve months. A complimentary bag of golf clubs was also included. It was altogether too much. Hab was overcome by powerful emotions. He tried to thank the secretary but his voice choked with tears. He grabbed the secretary’s paw and nearly crushed his bones with the violent pawshake. All this while, Rabbit Fud stood by to one side, benignly smiling. Afterwards, they all took leave of each other and Hab went home. Hab felt wickedly lucky. Were it not for his chance visit to the country club that day, he realized, the club may never have discovered their error; or had an opportunity to fix it. It was an honest mistake, the club had owned up to it, and, what was more, corrected it in a handsome manner.
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No trace of any resentment was now left in Habâ€™s heart about the earlier experience. He felt specially warm and huggy towards Rabbit Fud whose invitation had triggered this change in fortunes.
Hab could not sleep much at all that night. He imagined himself hurtling down the slopes of the country club in the golf cart. He sat in his bed turning the pages of the sports catalogues, unable to decide which equipment to order first. He opened his wardrobe and stood wondering which outfit to wear on his first visit to the club as a member. Even the few dreams he had that night were all neon green, and smelled of fresh grass.
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Hab never received his complimentary bottle of UB-Next. But the following week Rabbit Fud dropped by the Lapin Alliance head office. He brought Hab and other members, two large canisters each of a special fertilizer Vegobese. He told Hab his company was offering it to a limited number of farms, carefully selected for their advanced cultivation standards and high yield histories, to help them improve their output. Habâ€™s farm, he said, was a natural choice. Rabbit Fud should not have said that. Hab was extremely jealous about his farm and farming processes. They were not only one of the most advanced in the whole region; his vegetables were already the largest in the land. Hab highly doubted Vegobese could do anything for his vegetables that his own farm processes could not do. In fact, Hab found the Vegobese offer slightly condescending. He received it as something of a personal affront. Yet, Hab was not someone to throw away a free product sample. He took both canisters to his farmhouse and poured one on a pumpkin patch that had not performed any great wonders for him the last season. Then he forgot all about it.
The next couple of weeks Hab remained busy in moving house and with some related family troubles. Like so many prosperous rabbit households, Habâ€™s family too, was caught up in the Aboveground Living Trend (ALT).
CHAPTER 3 In which we read the secular and scholarly study, From the Hole to the Closet: The Rise of the Morally Dissonant Warren by the late Corby Totter, former Professor Emeritus of Rabbitology and Pellet Sciences, to learn how the Alt phenomenon came about and why
t was inevitable that the post-predatorial age should bring about a change in the rabbitsâ€™ general outlook. They began to be seen aboveground at all times of night and day. In the absence of the predators, there was no need to remain close to the warrens. Some of them began regular outings. They saw much and learned a great deal. They became very modern, forward-thinking, and sure of themselves. They came to be known as the Fat Rabbits Urging Modern Perspectives (FRUMP). However, not all rabbits felt comfortable with the Frump lifestyle. Some members of the Old Generation Rabbit Elders (OGRE) even saw them as a bad influence on the young ones. But they kept their opinions to themselves because the Frump daily grew in numbers and influence.
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The Frump impulses were also slowly changing. Since there was no need to run every time a twig snapped, or dart to safety whenever a leaf rustled, the rabbitsâ€™ high-strung natures and jumpy dispositions were gradually giving way to calm and placid persona. They could finally indulge in pursuits requiring long, deep focus. It is an undeniable fact that persons of composed nature and tranquil mind are generally a little bit on the plump side. Thereâ€™s no explanation for this phenomenon, nothing anyone can do about it. The Frump, too, grew heavier and rounder around the waist and rump. Before long, the warren entrances had to be widened to facilitate their entry and exit. But they kept growing bigger and the family gatherings became too suffocatingly tight and snug. The warrens all had the same conventional architecture. They were built keeping in view the natural topography of the land, surrounding environment, and quality of soil. Some had been dug decades earlier. Their passages could not always be widened without risk of damage to the supporting walls. The Ogre saw this as a wonderful opportunity to send the Frump away and curtail their influence. They asked them to move to a new region where they
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could build warrens that would accommodate their Frump sizes. But the Frump stunned the Ogre schemers with
their rejoinder: what was the need to dig and burrow deep in the absence of any attackers? It only made sense to burrow when living aboveground threatened rabbit life. In the post-predatorial age, burrowing was pointless, futile, and passĂŠ. The Ogre thought it a preposterous concept. Many younger rabbits thought it too radical a position as well, but nobody could deny the inherent logic of the idea. It made excellent sense.
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Soon thereafter, a number of Frump began living aboveground. The whole concept of aboveground living seemed very daring, über-modern and chic, but the actual living part was rough. The temperatures fell at night and rain and dew-showers disrupted the rabbits’ sleep. Without supporting walls to rest against, they often toppled over the moment they dozed off. All of that was most inconvenient. Tired of getting up heavy-headed every morning with the body aching and limbs sore from cold and damp, one Frump in an inspired moment rang up a housing solutions provider to ask if they could help him. After some preliminary correspondence, during which other Frump also got involved, the housing solution provider sent a team of designers and engineers to do a feasibility study. The Frump explained them the Alt philosophy and took them on a tour of the grounds. The engineers and designers jotted down their requirements. Afterwards they all sat down and the designers opened up the product catalogues. They discussed a few ideas with the engineers who explained how from their
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existing product line a perfectly workable solution could be found for the Frump housing needs. The whole thing was really quite simple. All it took to create a New Era Rabbit Den (NERD) was a single door, weatherproof plywood cabinet lined with linoleum and equipped with a light-box. A duplex model came with two cabinets interconnected with industrial-grade ducts. All of them were stackable, and had built-in, add-on options. The Frumpâ€™s growing size was no problem either. The shelves were adjustable, and the ducts came in different diameter sizes.
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The following week a Nerd model was installed near a warren entrance. In the first week thirty Nerds were ordered, seven of them duplex suites. The following week there were sixty-five orders, of which twenty were duplexes. Three of them were ordered by Ogre families. The Nerd’s simple and elegant design had won over many of its detractors.
The Alt now began to gain critical mass. More and more Ogre families began moving households. But not every family had an easy time of it.”
An Ode to the Warren Ode to the warren Where I was born And lived all my days ‘Til this cruel morn Snug as a bug in Your dark warmth lay I And thought t’was the place Where, surely, I’d die Then came the pull of Some dark, evil tide And rabbits in warrens Would ne’er more abide Too weak were my punches Too feeble my blows. I was dragged from my rest By merciless foes Now exiled I wander Half blind in the light Too exposed by the day Too afraid i’ the night
Though some may find shelter In their cold-hearted Nerds I’d rather live free Like the bees and the birds Goodbye to the warren, To all peace and all calm From this day I’ll wander O’er field, dale and farm … — by Pot-Heady Matt