In the Hausa she is also called Sarkin, for she truly is prince among fish. Certainly, once smoked she is without peer. Such is the … wellbeing that suffuses soups fortunate enough to simmer her. Her fragrance is renowned and respected, even beyond human realms. Indeed, GrandRatfather, perceiving the fragrance of smoked Assia, roused the trembling length and weight of him and said his futile prayers to the RatGods. He was no fool, that patriarch of the 150-strong ratclan that harassed the desperate Ubeki household. He knew very well the economic straits of the household in which he was domiciled and realised that smoked Sarkin was well beyond the everyday dreams of their kitchen. He also perceived the smell of grease and cunning associated with the debilitating aroma of smoked Sarkin and he knew full well, sight unseen, that it was a trap. Yet, he was nearly blind and nearly dead anyway. His best days were well behind him and despite the appeal of a silent death in a rathole, beside the sudden stun of the smell of sarkin, he would far rather go with a bang than a whimper. He had done his best by his clan, but his sins were lined up like the skewers of fat, smoked, turkey gizzards in Mama Ubeki’s ratproof pantry (which he had once savoured by stowing away in a bag of gari on its way into that most secure room in the house). He knew that even in the great beyond, the judgement book for the rat race was scripted by humans and played out by spineless RatGods with a colonial mentality: he was headed for a RatHell shorn of treats. But that midnight he nuzzled his great-great-great-great-grandratchildren goodbye with a cunning twitch of his grey whiskers. – In his wilder youth he had watched many a reckless pal die in a rattrap, so he knew that after the snap of sprung iron, ratjaws did not immediately lose their powers of mastication.
He had found a way to savour RatHeaven for a few transcendental minutes before the GreatRat came for him.