Saturday, 10 January 2009

The Ragnarok of the Bugs

(Look at that pic. Now that's a clever pun if you've ever heard one, innit?)

Ok, so the end of my peace and the beginning of the storm, carried under Jack’s arms into the room, was a mosquito-net.

You see, it was a question of animals. After the zoo for arthropods that our university accommodation had turned out to be, me and my housemate were expecting a reasonable respite from the critters. Yet the moment we settle into the new house, it turns out that the insect-war has not diminished in intensity in the new scenario, in fact if anything it has increased. Every time we so much as switch a light-bulb on, it’s like the pope of mosquitoes has called a convention inside our room – suddenly the house gets swarmed with so many of the little bugs you want to torch the place down with a flamethrower. When the mosquitoes are not coming by the billions as they usually do, the cockroaches start making their appearance: gigantic, greasy, copper-coloured eggs equipped with wings who must have been one of the goofiest products of evolution: either they’re perpetually drunk, or they’re simply incapable for the life of them of flying straight. I really don’t think it’s intentional on their part – it can’t possibly fit with any survival instincts – but whenever they introduce themselves into a room what they immediately do is, they start flying in elliptic circles until they bang the fuck against one of us and bounce off with an augmented dose of stupid. On the second day that I am there one of them pounds into my forehead with such a potency that it all but rams me off the chair. Jack and I try to get them out of our rooms by batting them with our shoes, but all we get is to have them fly like bullets through the quarters, most often towards each other of us – so that after a while, our efforts towards disinfestation start bearing the marked semblance of a game of tennis. We even start adopting the lingo – ‘15-Love,’ one of us cries whenever a cockroach is killed, that is to say, every ten seconds.

When we kill one of the cockroaches, what we normally do is we feed it to the ants. There’s not an ant-colony in the garden; there are five-hundred. Outside of the many birds, who are only there fleetingly, our garden appears in fact to contain a sample of every kind of beast here in Martinique: frogs of varying dimensions who are most commonly found in our shower (we’ve got drainage problems so it looks like a swamp in there any time someone decides to give himself a wash), some caterpillars who are the fattest mofos I’ve ever seen since a Spanish newspaper erroneously exchanging the photos for two articles respectively on the arrival of an Austrian countess to the peninsula and the shoring of a whale on the Catalonian beach, a couple of puppies owned by the neighbours who meander in occasionally, and, perhaps most notably of all, the lizards. There was literally an army of them, a legion of hundreds, ready to pounce inside our rooms as soon as we gave them the opportunity.

Jack initially thought they were disgusting, what with their sloppy tails and insalubrious eyes, but it wasn’t late before we discovered the blessing they actually were – a scaled blessing, grant you, but a blessing nonetheless. You see, the lizards fed on the insects. Letting a couple of them loose in the house means turning our bedroom from a motel for critters into a more sparsely populated battleground. So we strike an alliance with the lizards.

For a while this seems to work, until one day Jack walks into his room and I hear a frightful scream rising from the door. I run in and find Jack furiously yelling while looking at his bed-sheets. On them are the scattered remains of what must have been a gruesome battle between a lizard and a cockroach. The lizard appeared to have had the upper hand, and the rests of the cockroach – from its bodily fluids and some interior bits to its (presumably inedible) legs – were spread and smeared over the white sheets like a tomato. Jack was already planning on buying a flask of napalm and burning them all to death with it (by the way he reacted to that bed, you’d have thought he had found his wife in it, with another man), but I convinced him the price was worth paying. After all, this wasn’t that hard to do: I only had to point out the number of mosquitoes that the lizards daily eliminated.

The mosquitoes were, you see, the bane of Jack’s existence in the Caribbean. Once he purchased the mosquito-net, however, turning me into the only dish of the night forever to be, they became mine. The end of his battle meant the beginning of mine, and it was one of the bloodiest in my life (hhhhaaaaaaaaaaaarrrr har har harrr, a ‘bloody’ battle, oh what a gggrrrreeeaaattt pun again, ain’t I swell). Its chronicle will be found in the next entry. Ta ta and hope you’ve had some good festivities!

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