Last night, while watching the news in bed, out of the corner of my eyes, something black was slowly approaching my face. Without a second hesitation, I screamed and jumped out of bed.

I have an irrational fear of cockroaches. I find the pest disgusting and the smell emitted when you squashed it nauseating. Unfortunately I passed this fear to the rest of my male-dominated family. My knight, himself also weary of the alien on our bed, went around the bed, under the pillows, quilts, bedside tables, in search of that elusive creature, just in case it was my imagination. He spotted it soon enough, and armed with a rolled-up newspaper on one hand and a can of insecticide on the other, he proceeded to wage a war by spraying the can all around and under the bed. Thanks to Shieldox, (scentless, a plus!), the fellow was killed within minutes and the body disposed of. There was some guilt as he described how his Taichi master had just discussed with them last week about the Buddhist’s philosophy of not taking a life, even that of pests like the Aedes mosquitoes and yes, cockroaches, to which he told his Taichi group, that his wife and a cockroach cannot be in the same room. And that’s why I don’t consider myself a Buddhist even if I subscribe to its philosophy.

My sons, unfortunately, have the same fear, which Mike assures me they will get over it when the time comes. For he was also afraid of cockroaches before but now have to do what the man of the house have to do, protect the family.

I was surprised when I first found out that men are also afraid of cockroaches. After all, they have served NS and been to jungle training, where more horrifying bugs are plentiful.

My brother-in-law visited once and in the midst of our conversation, a cockroach flew in and landed on the wall. Our conversation stopped abruptly as we eyed the creature on the wall, each of us, probably in our private thoughts, were deciding where to best run and duck if that cockroach decides to change position. My BIL, then whispered for a can of spray. I ran and grabbed a can while he kept his eyes on the target. I passed the can to him and ran back to the kitchen, wondering if he would mind if I close the door while he fought the battle alone, but my manners decided otherwise. My BIL sprayed the can with all his might, leaving a trail of oily mess in my living room and out to the garage. The cockroach never had a chance to fly off.

On another occasion, my ex-neighbor, D, and I were discussing a vacation plan and I told her about the hotel accommodation in Lumut, Perak, which I had booked on our behalves. She said she was easy, as long as there was no cockroaches in the room. I replied that she need not worry as she was sharing a room with a big, strong man. Her reply? He would be the first to run if there was a cockroach. I laughed so hard at her reply I couldn’t forget this story.

It’s just an insect, you may say. I agree, and that’s why I call it my irrational fear. I have awful memories of stepping on a cockroach on my way to the toilet at night when I was a child (it happened a few times), and of one landing one me after flying in through my louvre window while I was asleep in bed.

I have great admiration for my maids from Philippines, Sri Lanka and Indonesia as they could catch the cockroaches with their bare hands without flinching…except for one Chinese Indonesian maid called A-Nee. When I was in JC, I had to catch a cockroach alive for dissection for Biology class. Prior to that, I had been catching toads around the neighbourhood park for my practice without any problem. But cockroach is a different story. It’s never there when you needed it, so when a huge one appeared, I quickly summoned my maid then, A-nee, a plumpish girl in her early twenties to catch it, expecting her to do what her predecessors had done – catch it alive with her bare hand. Instead, she saw the creature on the kitchen floor, turned to me apologetically and said, ‘But I am very frightened as well. It’s so big.’ We ended up spraying it dead. Even if I had caught it, I couldn’t have done the dissection the next day, not because of lack of cockroaches, for a classmates bought a whole cage of them for the class. I just couldn’t go near one.

I have just finished my MOOC course on Fiction of Relationship Module One from Brown University. One of the required reading was a short story by German author Franz Kafka called Metamorphosis. In the story, a man, Gregor Samsa, awoke one day and found himself turned into a giant cockroach (or bug, depending on which translated version you read. My version was a cockroach.) His parents and sister depended on him as the sole bread-winner and his immediate concern was his job, and getting to work, instead of being in a cockroach’s body. The story describes how he has to get used to living in an insect body, and what his family’s reactions in having their son/brother turned into a cockroach. The purpose of choosing this story was for us to study the relationship between human and body. I couldn’t appreciate the story (or for that matter, another story by the same author called The Country Doctor).

How weird is it for me to write this blog today. hmm…


About vickychong

Just an ordinary woman.
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