I killed a cockroach today.

I was picking up some books I had to study – right off the surface of my desk, when I saw a dark brown colour, contrasting against the pale wood of the tabletop. I moved toward it, and it moved away. Instantly, I was aware that this dark brown thing was alive, and I rushed down to the ground floor bathroom to collect my Hit! spray, while saying a silent prayer that the insect, whatever it was, remained in place till I got back. I climbed back up, 2 steps at a time, and got back to my room, back in position, spray in front of my body, only to see that it was a cockroach. I sprayed violently, furiously, dousing all my books in Hit! spray (which has the loveliest lemon scent). The cockroach was unnerved, it moved into the spray, moved around, and continued, well, living. Unaffected by all my spraying. I looked at my Hit! spray’s label. It said for flies and mosquitoes only.

I was flabbergasted. My only weapon was useless. I tracked the cockroach’s movements, as it fluttered around and elected to open up its wings, almost tauntingly. My eyes darted with its every move. The cockroach moved to the floor, and I instantly jumped back, worried it would come at me.

I’ve been wearing the same chappals in my house for the past 8 years. These heavy, brown, orthopaedic chappals, which were meant to (and did successfully) aid my flat foot. I moved one foot up, slowly, and brought down my full weight onto the cockroach, which was heading for my beloved piano. I was sure I had crushed it, and raised my foot. The cockroach scurried away, seeking refuge in a small gap between my piano and my desk. I took off the chappal. It was in my hand, and I jabbed at the cockroach a couple of times, ensuring I had taken away its ability to move.

Satisfied, I sat down on my beanbag. This was the most barbaric, aggressive, violent person I had been, and I texted my parents to relay all this information to them, to speak to them to clear my frustration.

One hour passed. I was calmer now. Drinking a lot of water had helped.

I went to charge my phone, right by my piano. I saw the cockroach continuing to writhe away. I got my dustpan, picked it up, and tossed the cockroach away to the curb.

Sitting on my beanbag now, all I’m thinking about is why I tried to kill it so. What was it about this little brown creature that induced so much anger in me, and why?

As I’ve said several times on this blog, I visited India every summer break to stay with my grandparents growing up. I have several fond memories of all of those trips. However, no matter how much I try, I cannot dislocate the position that cockroaches have occupied in my memory. They were everywhere in my grandparents’ house. In the kitchen, in the halls, in the bedrooms, in the bathrooms. I felt unsafe, intruded upon, hurt. At night, I felt fear – that one of those things would scurry up my legs, with their little feet, or, walk up my body and perch themselves on my nose, their home for the night.

 Seeing that cockroach, the first cockroach I’ve seen in a while (because, despite poor hygiene, the washrooms at University have a rather small, young population of roaches, so you see them infrequently) took me back to that place all over again. Largely because it had entered the place I slept, my room. All I could think about for those few minutes was this little thing deciding to co-exist in the same space as I, and rage soared through my blood.

Looking back now, all of this is rather foolish, and I do feel a sense of guilt for killing the insect. I wish I had the prudence and patience to trap it and let it out of my home.

I will wake up tomorrow more humane, more peaceful.

That is my metamorphosis.


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