I think it was around seven in the evening when a girl came to the toilet corridor and had a heart attack. In the dim light she found a figure, crouched beside a small bucket of water, shining a flashlight into it, and peering into it with the utmost concentration.
She: (clutching her chest) What the hell are you doing?
Me: (glancing up solemnly) Inspecting the water for worms.
Today, I shall be propounding my argument that a person staying in my hostel, is deserving of a degree in Entomology.
I wasn’t surprised by the state of things in the hostel. I had prepared myself mentally before coming here. In Dubai, where I lived, my knowledge of the pest kingdom was limited to geckos, houseflies, cockroaches, and ants.
Me: Visual on target. 8 o’ clock.
My sister: Roger that. Bedroom corridor clear. RUN!!!!!
And we both run for our dear lives. From a cockroach.
Now, my knowledge of the pest kingdom extends indefinitely into the six-legged and the leg-less variety.
The New Me: (snorts) Cockroaches? Who’s scared of them?
First it was the mosquitoes. At 6 pm sharp, I would get on the bed, and cover up. If I felt those bloodsuckers on my arm, I wouldn’t slap them – I was too scared for that – I would try to blow them away in the hope that they will get the hint and hurry up. The other girls would feel sorry for the poor foreigner. Now I’m proud to say, that I am willing to turn the room upside down, applauding, till I am satisfied with a decent graveyard of de-juiced mosquitoes.
It’s the UFBs next. Unidentified Flying Bugs. I would be diligently studying at 1 am when these things crowd under the solitary tube. They kept dropping their fried carcasses and stool onto my table. I swear, these things have no brains. I would keep the window open and tell them, “Come on, this way out”, but will they listen? No. They keep bombarding against the ceiling fan (which is just a prop, it’s ancient), and as a result of botched suicides, again keep falling on me. And they also want to investigate the inside of my nose, so they crawl in, and halfway in change their mind and buzz out and around. Meanwhile, I spend the next half hour, agonizing over if I have a bug trapped in my airways.
Me being the vegetarian I am, shouldn’t entertain such murderous thoughts, but I do. Do I actually get around to it, though? Um, too scared to. In fact, we have these staring matches at odd hours instead. Let’s see who moves first, yeah? It twitches – I run.
Then there are the rats, but if you leave them alone, they return the favour. I have taken to making loud noises before I enter corridors after 9 pm. So they only inspire an occasional scream from me.
Thing is, I’m always haunted by these pests. There I am, plucking an innocent looking book from the library shelf, when I open it and find an insect neatly preserved between the pages. Or else, my aim is dust off those books a week before the exams, but practically I have to brush off suspiciously poop-like pellets from them.
Have I earned your sympathy and admiration yet? If not, I will. Watch this space for the sequel.