Monday, 7 December 2009
La cucaracha, la cucaracha,
ya no puede caminar
porque no tiene, porque le falta
las dos patitas de atrás.
Back in Baku, I lived on the 5th floor of an old building. Below us, on the 4th floor, there was a mad, but reasonably clean family. However, the family above was filthy. I know that because I often shared lift rides with the woman and her smelly rubbish bins.
For many years we had an ongoing battle with cockroaches. Every time the filthy neighbour would finally spray some anti-cockroach stuff, they ran down the drainpipes- right into our flat.
Fortunately, I have not seen cockroaches in the UK. Not the fat, glossy black type I am talking about. OK, I once noticed a cockroach at work, but it looked tiny and pathetic compared to those in Baku.
During the university years I would spend nights working on a project. I sat in the kitchen, under a bright pull-down lamp, carefully drawing endless lines with black ink on an A1 size board. And, as the night fell, they came out to play on the kitchen floor. I once witnessed something that could have been a cute picture, should the actors have been say, cats. Or dogs. Or any other animals- as long as on no more than four legs. It was a family having a nice time. There was the hugest, fattest and glossiest daddy cockroach, a slightly smaller mommy, and a couple of little baby roaches. Babies played close to the mother, while daddy searched for food.
I could never kill those black cockroaches the way my father did- by stepping on them. They were way too big and made that nasty popping-cracking noise. So I used my own method. Not anyhow more humane, yet effective. I would boil a kettle and just splash the bastards. That night, I murdered the whole happy little family.
The filthy neighbours eventually immigrated, and an Indian family moved in.
Whether they are too hygienic, or their food is just too spicy for Azeri cockroaches, but my mother has been enjoying a cockroach-free life for a few years now. And I have not seen any more of them for years, either here, in the UK, or back home. Yet, wherever I am, I always glance down as I walk into a bathroom at night. You just never know what might be running under your feet when you switch the light on.
On a trip to Singapore, a friend of ours was telling us we should move there for a while. Just think- she said- you could have a housekeeper… your life would be so easy here…
Hmmm...- I thought-…tempting, very tempting.
However, at a dinner that night, she told us about cockroaches in Singapore. They sounded terribly similar to my childhood friends. Only bigger. Most importantly, they could FLY. If there is one thing that is worse than a big fat black cockroach, it is a big fat flying cockroach. So, I decided to stay in the UK. As far as nasty insects are concerned, this country is not that bad. At first, I thought British homes were completely creature-free. I was naive, of course.
Because, in British homes, we get spiders.
Allegedly, the huge ones we see in our houses are the male spiders. They normally live outside, but come in the homes by accident- desperately looking for a girlfriend. Boys, eh.
Husband likes spiders. Should he come to rescue me from one (or the other way around), he would try to catch it in a glass and set it free. He also thinks my fear of them is pathetic. And these days, after many years and after many, many spiders, I normally cope OK. Especially since I discovered that even the biggest ones do not make any noise when you squash them.
However, there was that one morning I had to wake husband up.
He was not very happy; it was too early and he was deeply asleep. He mentioned how attractive he finds independence in women. How tired and sleepy he was. And many, many other things. As he stumbled into the bathroom, half asleep, he crouched down next to the bath, and stared at the spider. The spider stared back.
Finally, husband spoke.
This is the biggest fucking spider I have seen in my entire life.
- - he admitted thoughtfully. And then tried to wash it down the drain. Like that was going to work. I get paid for planning things to fit into spaces. I knew the spider was way too big. As the water pushed him down, we could see his long hairy legs grab hold of the edges, pulling himself back out- in a fast and furious fashion.
In the end, husband had to butcher the guy with my foot file.
Still, it is winter now, and there are no spiders, flies or wasps in my lovely home. Just a large smelly dog snoring next to me. But that is quite different.