Monday, August 14, 2006

All creatures great and small

As I have indicated before in this blog, my sister and I have always been brought up to think that women and men are equal. Given this, I usually do not like to exhibit stereotypical overly feminine behavior like the I am a delicate-darling act, the Ooooh somebody protect me - I am so helpless act, the I can't do that because I am too weak act and so on.

However, in spite of making very conscious efforts to not be so, there is one area where I can compete strongly with the most feminine of the femininest. I absolutely, totally and unequivocally abhor household pests and creepy-crawlies of any kind. They just gross me out and - I admit - I am scared stiff of them.

(Note: If you are averse to reading about creepy-crawlies, now would be a good time to stop.)

You would think that this whole fear of household pests is a trait that runs in my family. I doubt it. Since my early childhood days, I remember my sister and my mom (they never even thought it necessary to involve dad in such trivial tasks) bravely vanquishing the occasional cockroach and centipede while I stood quivering on the nearest surface which was high enough off the floor. My worst nightmares were ones in which I was attacked by a (yes, a single, normal-sized one was enough) flying cockroach while I futilely stood on a chair trying to avoid it. Cockroaches for some reason were (and still are) my most feared creepy-crawlie.

Life was bright and happy while I was at home. I could get rid of ants and mosquitoes myself with impunity. For other pests, I could always count on one of the other three members of my house to come to my rescue if I was "attacked" by any of them.

The only time when my nightmares almost came true was when Shilpa, yeah my dear friend, landed up at school one day with a cockroach in a film-roll box (with two tiny holes on the top so that it could breathe!!!). Basically she had captured it at her house and thought it would be good fun to show it off to me among other things. Needless to say, it freaked me out completely. She jokingly told me that she would let it down my back when I wasn't looking. I was so horrified that I declared that I would never talk to her ever again if she did anything of the sort. Mercifully, she didn't let it down my back. Thank God, she didn't - I am quite confident that I would have never spoken to her again if she had (I would have died of fright most probably).

So anyways, as I said, I lead a happy, sheltered life at home. Then it was time to move to the hostel when I joined undergrad. I was dropped off at the hostel by my parents late in the evening of the day I joined it. Of my other room-mates, only S had also arrived. We both shyly exchanged introductions. Then, S set up her bed and went off to sleep.

I was about to follow suit when I noticed the open window and decided that I would shut it before going to bed to minimize the noise from the corridor. I reached for the ring on the shutter to pull it shut. Then, just before they touched the ring, my fingers froze. What I had assumed was a ring was actually a coiled caterpillar. Oh my God! A caterpillar - yuck, yuck, yuck!

Of course, things like throwing it out myself never even occurred to me as an option. Instead, without giving a second thought to the fact that I had met her for the first time only some 30 minutes previously, I shook the soundly-sleeping S awake. She got up with a start and stared at me with sleepy eyes. And I told her matter-of-factly "There is a caterpillar on the window sill. You have to get rid of it" and thrust a piece of waste-paper into her hand and retreated to the other end of the room. S could scarcely believe the kind of nutcase she had had the misfortune of becoming the room-mate of! Anyways, she threw the caterpillar outside and retreated back to bed.

Anyways, given that my legendary shyness did not include not asking almost-complete strangers for help in getting rid of pests, I managed fairly okay in hostel too. As the other folks got to know me, they realized that whenever I stood on a bed gesticulating wildly, it meant that some creepy crawly was near at hand!

Once I moved to the USA, mercifully, there were not too many instances when I had to encounter these pesky creatures. I remember though, sometime last year, when my friends and I visited another friend J.

J had moved into a new place which had a humongous chimney. For some reason, this chimney attracted cockroaches and a couple of them seemed to be descending into the room too. You can imagine my plight. I became quite hysterical when someone just suggested that a cockroach might hop onto to the bed I had taken refuge in (is there a word for fear of cockroaches?). Phew, that was one loooooooooong night. I am surprised that J still invites me to her home after all my whining of that night (thank God, she has moved to a nice apartment now).

Why all this occured to me is because, today, at work, I was busy reading up some stuff on the computer when something fluttered past my face. I glanced sharply to my left. My throat went dry when I saw a moth sitting on the cubicle wall. Then, as though to announce its presence grandly, the moth gaily fluttered past my head again and landed at some out of sight spot in my cubicle. Yuck, yuck, yuck! I nimbly jumped out of my chair and hopped into my colleague V's neighboring cubicle.

Gathering up all the dignity I could, I smartly asked him, "Do you know how to get rid of moths?" V was like, "Why?". And I went, "Er.. there is a moth in my cubicle." "Oh, be sure you don't send it into mine when you are chasing it away," said V and went back to his work. Aaaaarghh.

I went back to my desk to my cubicle and sat in my chair. Two minutes later, the moth flew towards my face. I jumped out of my chair and was back in V's cubicle in a jiffy. This clearly wasn't the time to think of dignity. So, this time, I went, "Can you pleaaaassssse get rid of the moth for me?" V gave me a 'I can't believe you' look and then a broad grin, and went into my cubicle and swatted the at the moth with a magazine. The moth escaped and flew far, far away. "Thank you," I said in a dignified voice and marched back to into my cubicle. Fortunately V is also a good friend of mine so hopefully this story should not spread too much in the office circle.

All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful:
The Lord God made them all.
- C. F. Alexander

I know all of us exist on this planet for a reason. If God wanted to make creepy-crawlies, I am sure He had as good a reason for that as He did for making humans. I am only asking that our lives be parallel and that our twines never need meet!

Tomorrow is August 15.

Happy Independence Day :-)!


Saranya Kishore said...

[Yeh! First to comment after a longggg time ;--)]

Happy Independance Day!

Nice post Arch. I cant stand cockroaches too! What about lizards? I know I am zoning you out now :--), but I used to depend on my brother or Dad to drive any lizard that chose to enter my room from the living room. And that was after I watched Jurassic park :--((
That was one thing I was happy about when I landed in the US.

And I cant believe Shilpa caught a cockroach!!

Di said...

hey just happened to pass by..nice blog.. :-)

spark said...

for a minute, i thought you are talking about James Herriot's cheerful book.

Floridora said...

May you have a Happy Independance Day free of all things smaller than a breadbox!

Taruna said...

Moths, spiders and roaches were alright.. .I used to swat them, stomp and crush them... but the scary one was the lizard...oh, man... u never know when it might fall on you.. ewwwwww

Happy Independence Day!!

dinesh said...

Nicely written. Couldn't help laughing at some parts..Cockroaches have always creeped me out too. I am not really scared of em..but am irritated at their sight...and just like you, I want them in a parallel universe.

ROBBIE said...

I still remember dissecting them cockroaches during my bachelors degree. We used to go to my friends apartment which was infested with cockroaches, catch them and kill them by immersing them into a bottle filled with diluted dettol and nail them on the backside of a flip flopper and dissect them.We all got A's in the practical exam for our effort. You should try dissecting a cockroach, it will make you realize the universal truth, they have everything we have, a nervous system, digestive system, reproductive system, mouth parts, etc etc....
p.s: the cockroaches werent as much fun to dissect like the rat though:P

Prabhu said...

Shilpa got a cockroach into the class? :-D
That would have caused quite a commotion I guess...

And LOL at you waking up ur new roomie to get rid of the caterpillar :)

And as to cockroaches, it creeps me when it starts to fly around... thats when u really have a task on ur hand...
and ya happy indep day...

Ramki said...

Happy Independence day!!.

Nice post!!

But I didn't expect this cockroach fever from a person who regularly go to fitness center and all. :-)


PRIDERA said...

I am in the same league as you Archana ... I still can't believe I dissected a cockroach in my anatomy class ... that was simply disgusting.
I am surprised lizards are no where mentioned in this post ... they are the scariest of them all

Archana said...

For all of you who asked, the only reason I did not include lizards/rats in the post was because writing about the rest of the creatures grossed me out quite some and I did not want to add on to the effect :-(. Rest assured, I hate them too - yuck!

Saranya - :-)! Thank you! Yeah those lizards were quite a pain in the hostel (I have all the horror stories of lizards falling onto someone etc too)! Yeah, Shilpa used to be wonder woman as far as tackling cockroaches was concerned!

Di - thank you :-)! And hope you stop by again!

Spark - yeah, his books are delightful :-) - I think I have read them all.

Floridora - thank you :-)! Independence day passed off with any Attack of the Creatures!

Taruna - Yeah, lizards and rats are in a league of their own - ugh! Thank you for the wishes :-)!

Dinesh - thank you! Ah, one more roach-hater! Cockroaches are simply so disgusting!

Robbie - was there any need for such a detailed description :-((? I am glad you realized the universal truth - me has no desire to do so myself. I shall take your word for it :-P!

Prabhu - actually it did not cause too much commotion since it was inside the film box - had she let it lose I would have been the first person to run from the class! My fear of flying cockroaches is my fear of normal cockroaches -> infinity :-(! Thanks for the wishes.

Ramki - Thanks for the wishes! Yeah, sometimes I wonder if the cockroach goes and tells other cockroaches about this giant of a human who is terribly scared of it!

Pridera - wow, you dissected a cockroach :-O! You are a brave girl!

ROBBIE said...

hehe! that was just for fun, I hope you did not let you imagination fly and think about everything I described. Well... sorry if you felt dizzy while reading that. Will avoid playing pranks from now on:P

Archana Bahuguna said...

he he he ... I also cant stand some of the creepy ones ... Now being in US specially NC, where it rains every other day with the extremely humid weather, I have gathered the guts to pick dead ones ... no other choice, Inder is travelling most of the times and I am alone at home ...

In India, I just used to run away from the site, as if I had nothing to do with them! It was anyone else's but my responsibility to clean the stuff. My mom is also afraid of these things, so mostly it would be dad. Gradually, I have also come to at least respect these creatures however creepy they look and try not to hate them. But still, the shivers go down my spine. Another one is lizard on the ceiling when I am sleeping. Thankfully "it happens only in India".

happy Independence day to you too!

Archana Bahuguna said...

God, I promise my next comments will be smaller!

Ramki said...

May be their antennas might sense your fear vibrations....:-)...who knows.....


Ginkgo said...

oh boy what blashphemy
u called somebody by their name..watever happened to the convention:-P

Archana said...

Robbie - With my way-too-active imagination, of course I imagined everything! But the good part is, I have developed some kind of tolerance now (I remember a doctor cousin who once described to me in loving detail how she tackled the human intestine in an anatomy class) - so its okay :-)!

Archana - please do write long comments. Its like having a bonus blog post to read :-D! Good girl - I think I should learn from you! I just recently spent almost 15 minutes contemplating whether I should stomp the rather biggish insect inside the restroom or not and whether it would attack me if I did :-(!

Ramki - come to think of it, that's quite possible!

Ginkgo - most of you people read Shilpa's blog too anyways. So I thought I shall spread her name and fame far and wide :-)!

Divya said...

Haaahahahahaha! Funny post :) i hear you.. and i feel ditto about everything u said right down to nightmare about single flying cockroach and what-on-earth-is-their-purpose-in-life thought... But the freakiest incident was when a rat (!!!!) entered my hostel room, ran around, tried to climb onto my bed where i was (!!!!!!!!!!!!). well i became ultrasonic and almost hysterical... and the irony of it all.. the person who bravely shoo-ed it out like it was a naughty puppy was a girl half my height and weight... [sheepish grin] :P