This time last year, when we were living in the hutongs in the centre, we bought a hamster. It was more interesting than a goldfish and less responsibility than a dog. We thought about getting two, but the cage would’ve been a bit too big to carry around.
I carried the hamster back home in my hands. We called him/her (sex never determined, but assuming ‘her’ from now on on an arbitrary basis) Liumangshu. “Liumangtu” is the Chinese name for Bugs Bunny – literally “hooligan rabbit” – but “Liumang” these days has a popular meaning of sex pest. ‘Shu’ means mouse, and any sort of rodent is a mouse.
I’d say Liumangshu was quite well-cared-for. She escaped from her cage on a regular basis but was always fairly easy to catch, even if it meant running around semi-naked at 3am. When we went away to Hubei we had friends and relatives stay at the house just to take care of her, and she came with us to the next two houses. Unfortunately for Liumangshu our current house is also shared with a terrier, a creature bred for catching rodents, so she had to stay outside in the corridor. She was still well-taken care of, but got quite a lot less in the way of attention.
Yesterday we found Liumangshu dead in her house, cause unknown, at least not eaten by the dog. We buried her under a tree in the park outside. We probably won’t get another hamster.