“Oh no …” I had entered the kitchen of our vacation bungalow on our first evening only to see something skitter away. Something brown and shiny.
“What?”, asked the husband from the bedroom.
“We’ve got cockroaches. Well, one at least”, I answered.
“It’s the tropics. What did you expect?”
Indeed. Silly of me, and even sillier my reaction. If it had been a butterfly or a ladybird, I would have been pleased. So why the revulsion towards this other insect? Definitely a learnt behaviour, the three-year-old me would have been fascinated and intrigued.
“Don’t tell anyone”, the husband added. “They might spray the place with heaven-knows-what.” That I did not want. Not for us but neither, I realized, for this critter who, after all, had not done me any harm.
“Alright”, I said in the general direction of the microwave behind which our uninvited guest (but wasn’t it actually us who were the intruders?) had taken shelter. “Make you a deal: You stay in here and don’t come into the bedroom and we’ll leave you be.”
In the days that followed, I always made sure that all of our foodstuffs were either in the fridge or in closely sealed containers, but I also started to leave a bit of food out. Vegetable peelings, a banana peel, an unwashed plate with traces of tomato sauce.
“You’re feeding it now?!?” “If it finds food in the kitchen, it has no reason to come into the bedroom”, I argued, probably not fooling the husband. (My saying “good night” before closing the kitchen door in the evening presumably did not help.) But my latest pet did take care to make itself inconspicuous – not only did we never see it in the bedroom, it was over a week until I heard the husband say: “So we meet at last.”
I joined him in the kitchen and we watched in awe as the panicked roach found a slight unevenness in one of the cabinet doors, inserted its end into it and – in a surely superhuman effort – managed to squeeze the door open just enough to slip through the resulting gap.
“One day they’ll rule the world, you know”, the husband said.
“Well, maybe this one will put in a good word for us when the revolution comes.”