Creepies, Crawlies Und Ich

Our house is full of guests, though not the paying variety. They have horrible hygiene. If the jam jar is open, they help themselves to a bit of marmalade – with their hands. If I finish my cup of tea, they lick & feast on the dregs. Its utterly disgusting. They love having the TV on – the channel is immaterial, they are just mesmerized by its LCD screen. My attempts to boot them out was met with derision. They just invited a few more friends over. They buzz around all day long, partying like mad. Our house has been invaded, its a war zone.

I’m talking about houseflies, of course. And their larger, more annoying cousins – face flies. Resistance is futile. They sneak in thru the balcony – which we are forced to keep open. It serves as our baby’s play pen & she emits unearthly howls if we so much as dream of closing it. She invites the flies in with shouts of glee & they saunter in happily, under the guise of her friends. One of these days, they’ll nod their fugly heads & ask me – “Howzit Hanging, Ms R?”.

Countries with an economic boom create more trash. Rotting piles of garbage adorn every street – major, minor, semi-major, demi-minor & everything in between. India is now a very dirty, smelly country – that makes Wall Street (& Dalal Street!) happy & the denizens of every other street miserable. Add to this squalor a dash of blubbering cretins masquerading as administrators. Et voila! – you get an incendiary dung-heap – prime real estate to breed flies.

So, all I can do now is gnash my teeth impotently & shriek – I’ll get you, you gecko-feed!

While flies & bugs are vomit-worthy, some of the beetles are uber-cool. Many people don’t know the difference – which is kind of sad. Beetles are awesome. I should know – I kept several of them as pets.

Once, a Regal Jewel Beetle owned me. My brother presented it to me during that year’s Summer holidays. “Hey, bat barf – happy birthday” he said lazily & tipped the beetle on my head. The beetle crawled over my forehead, slipped on my eye-glasses & fell on my largish nose. It had a lovely iridescent body & chocolate colored wings. It twirled its antennae & tickled my cheeks.

I eyed my brother with deep suspicion. Elder brothers don’t do random acts of kindness. That, and my birthday wasn’t till November. I turned the beetle over gingerly – ACK! PTBH! It looked like a roach! My brother made a face at me & said “I found it in the orchard, monkey-face! I thought of dropping it in your knickers when you sleep – but it will be a harrowing experience for the poor beetle”.

The beetle was totally adorable. It soon had its own digs – a palm-leaf box. It was used as a receptacle for dried mango – which we irreverently dumped in the garbage. Which event was set to the back-ground score of our grandma cursing us – “Urchins! Rogues!”. We lined the box with our dad’s best hand kerchief & an old tie. We laid the beetle in its abode with great respect.

Assiduous research on our part – as in, I did all the reading while my brother showered dried leaves on my hair singing “Its Raining Men”, not what I’d call an even division of labor – revealed that this particular beetle was partial to Jujuba leaves (Indian Ber Tree). We kept the beetle ensconced in comfort & Jujuba leaves – which we harvested from our back-yard.

All good things must come to an end. Our beloved beetle died during child-birth. To be precise, egg-birth. What can we say, labor is fraught with perils for females of all species. We were devastated. Our father consoled us by saying, “Now why don’t we give your beetle a proper funeral?”.

We dug a shallow grave near a rose bush & laid our sweet beetle to rest there. That’s when we hit a snag. We hadn’t given our pet a name. But, tombstones needed a name. So, we named her “Hot Water” – don’t ask me why. “Here lies Hot Water, Beloved Pet of Priya & Ravi”. My friend Sudha solemnly filled a small glass bottle with Hot Water & laid it beside the beetle. We sobbed uncontrollably & quaked with grief when the grave was closed with a mound of sand. We laid button-roses (since normal roses were too big) on Hot Water’s tombstone.

Even now, I feel a tug in my heart when I remember Hot Water.

As I said, beetles are thigh-slapping wonderful. The other day, my niece Roshni espied a Rhinoceros beetle & ran screaming “Bugs! Bugs!”. The beetle’s little feelings must have been hurt by the pandemonium – for he marched resolutely towards the door. “That’s a beetle, Roshni” I said dully. “They are all the same” she said mulishly. “Do me a favor” I begged. “Promise me you won’t consider a career in Zoology”. “Whatever” she shrugged “but please throw that ugly bug down the garbage chute”.


  1. Quote

    A post by Priya!! Yay yay!!
    Lovely lovely post. Thoroughly enjoyed reading it. I dunno what to say. Please write a book priya please. I think it is criminal to be able to write so well and not publish your stuff.
    P.S: I dunno if you read Gerald Durrell. If not the please do. I m sure you will love it!! 🙂
    Do read his book my family and other animals. It’s a beautiful book about a wonderful childhood which Gerald Durrell had. Your post, the conversations between you and your brother remind me of that book!! 🙂

  2. Quote

    Hilarious ! Mast post as ever priyaaa!
    So did you throw the bug err the beetle down the garbage chute?

  3. Quote

    Revs – Thanks for your comment.

    Yes, I love Durrell. His books are wonderful. Especially, his escapades in Corfu. And his “Magenpies”. You are too kind to compare my scribbles with Durrell’s masterpiece though.

  4. Quote

    Jass – Thanks for your comment.

    Oh no, you don’t treat a Rhinoceros Beetle with disrespect. He marched out thru the bathroom window, totally miffed with my niece.

  5. Quote

    🙂 Smile never left my face all along while I am reading this post. Know what whenever I see some super funny episodes of South Park I wonder if you would story board the ideas better!!!

  6. Quote

    Vamsi – Thanks for your comment.

    South Park is a favorite of mine. My favorite phrase is “OMG, they killed Kenny”. And in 1 particular episode, Kenny never dies 🙂 Stan & Kyle are dumb-struck 😀

    You are too lavish in your praise. I wonder if I can ever be as deliciously irreverent as the South Park creators.

  7. Quote

    Honest Priya.

    These days Kenny’s character is a bit less. Now they have butters in the group. Stan is evil too. Eric

    These days I am stuck to Comedy Central. Apart from regular tapori comedy, some of the stand-ups are too good. I always wonder if we have any humor in our part of the world. Just imagine someone making fun of, say JJ in TV, the next day, the studio will be burnt..

  8. Quote

    Vamsi – I miss South Park very much. And Comedy Central.

    Man oh man. Indians are very touchy, I think. There are too many taboo subjects. Politicians, Religion, Ancestors, our Culture & Traditions, Women…..its a depressingly long list. You can’t make fun of the minorities – or the majority. Its insensitive to make fun of the lower castes – & totally unthinkable to make fun of the Brahmins. Women – you can’t talk about their chastity – or God forbid, lack of it. Sigh….

  9. Quote
    Sukumar (subscribed) said August 8, 2008, 8:44 pm:

    Nice post Priya. I agree with Revs that this bears a strong resemblance to Gerald Durrell in the way your love for animals is coming through. You should seriously consider writing a book.

  10. Quote

    Sukumar – Thanks for your comment & kind words.

    I’ll certainly consider writing a book. Wonder if people will consider buying it though 😀

  11. Quote

    You can write the book. Don’t worry about the sales 🙂

  12. Quote

    Sukumar – Thanks. You planning to buy all the copies? 😀

  13. Quote

    Yes, of course.

  14. Quote

    Errr!! Since i was the first to suggest (in this particular post i mean. given the way u write i might be the 9364578th person who is asking you to write a book!!) that you write a book maybe Sukumar would be kind enough to spare me one copy!! 😉

  15. Quote

    To buy, or not to buy: that is the question!
    Whether to pay and buy a book
    And pay out an outrageous fortune, 😛
    Or loan one from sukumar
    And read the book for free 😉
    But the dread of not getting to read the book,
    Shall haunt me forever!

    (Let me stop this here before it gets hideous)

    P.S: One book for me priya !

  16. Quote

    Sukumar – Cool, we have a book deal then 😛

  17. Quote

    Revs – So, I’m the “Saawariya” of the book world 😉 As in, I’ll consider watching it when its on TV – I’m not gonna pay good money to watch it in a theater 🙂

    Ah, what the hell. I’ll send you a copy. After all, you’ll be paying the publisher, its only fair that you get a copy 😀

  18. Quote

    Jass – Cool ditty. But you are paying for a copy, buddy. I’ll sign it though. That way, when I become rich & notorious, you can auction it on e-bay & make mucho moolah. Deal?

  19. Quote

    So Priyaka, what about cockroach? I have witnessed your love for cockroaches 🙂
    Are you still afraid of them?

  20. Quote

    Lovely post Priya. I was smiling all through out.

    Aww..I am sorry for “Hot Water”.

    I got reminded of my mom making friends with the lizards at home.

    And Priya, you should write a book. I am the 9364579th person to ask 🙂

  21. Quote

    Priya – I never thought a beetle’s funeral would move me to tears 🙂 It was absolutely hilarious.

  22. Quote

    Rupika – Thanks for your comment.

    Roaches are pests. They are utterly disgusting. I wrote a highly scientific (AKA boring) post in this blog 2 years ago about my phobia. No one is fascinated by roaches, so its no wonder I got no comments for that post 😀 It triggered a discussion with a British scientist, so I guess that’s the good part.

  23. Quote

    Saraswathi – Thanks for your comment & condolences. I still miss my beetle.

    Your mom makes friends with lizards?? Man, they are disgusting! I guess one person’s disgust is another person’s fancy.

    Book – yes. Thanks for your kind words. Perhaps I’ll publish a collection of my short fiction & see how it goes.

  24. Quote

    Archana – Thanks for your comment.

    My beloved beetle was a poor, defenseless creature. Maybe I should have done something to save it? Being a kid, I didn’t know what to do.

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