Monday, 21 June 2010

At Least They Aren't Cockroaches

I opened a cupboard in the kitchen a few days ago, and a brown insect about the size of my thumb-nail skittered across the cupboard and dived for cover behind the dishes. There was no way I would eat off the dishes without washing them, but when I went to put the clean dishes on the drying rack, I saw another brown insect scurrying around under the rack. The kitchen has to be emptied out and fumigated at least once a semester, preferably before the little cockroach-like bugs infiltrate the bedrooms, and it was definitely time to fumigate again. If people didn’t leave dirty dishes lying around and let the garbage overflow it wouldn’t be such a problem, but they do. Well, I thought, at least it isn’t actual cockroaches, or more of the two-inch-long flying insect I captured in our room a while ago.

A few days later, I heard women screaming in the hallway for an unusually long time, and went out to see what the problem was. Usually it’s just Najah telling someone that something halaal is haraam, resulting in a shouting match, but not this time. Najah had discovered one of the two-inch-long flying cockroach-like bugs in a box of books, and every girl in the dorm was standing around it screaming. My Indonesian roommate killed it, and hid it behind a fake potted plant so they would calm down.

I almost never feel the ancient instinct to run screaming from insects, but I did when I found a huge cockroach-like bug with inch-long antennae flying around my room a few weeks ago. I told the girls in bad Arabic, with a lot of gestures, how I had opened the windows and left the room, hoping it would leave by itself and I wouldn’t have to deal with it. An hour later, it was still there, and I wanted to go to sleep. There was no way I could sleep with a bug out of a low-budget horror movie flying around the room, so I grabbed the only thing I could find, a water glass, and tried to capture the insect. It crawled down the back of the mini fridge, and I pulled the fridge away from the wall and stalked it with my glass. I finally captured it – but it was longer than the glass was wide, and I partially crushed the insect. I felt kind of bad for it, and quickly scooped it into the glass and disposed of it down the squatter loo.

The girls all had a good laugh at me, except for Najah, who was horrified and wanted to throw out all the water glasses. One of them could contain traces of crushed bug, no matter how well I bleached, washed, and rinsed it, and the bug was not a locust (the only insect that is halaal for Muslims to consume). I suspect she won’t be drinking out of the school water glasses anymore.

After the kitchen was fumigated, I was re-washing dishes, and I saw a little brown bug run across the counter. I think whoever said that cockroaches will be the last creatures on earth after a nuclear holocaust was right, and their little brown cousins will be there with them.

(Edit: actually, they were cockroaches, just younger ones than I'd seen before.  Oops).