Loneliness is furthest from the mind when roaches invade

By Sun Li in Fuzhou ( China Daily ) Updated: 2012-08-15 09:31:30

Loneliness is furthest from the mind when roaches invade

Before I was transferred to Fuzhou, Fujian's provincial capital - a city where I have no connections and I am supposed to stay for six months - I thought the periodic sense of loneliness would be the first challenge I had to face.

But the moment I entered my apartment in Fuzhou, I knew I was wrong.

A squad of cockroaches zigzagged on the floor and made a hasty retreat after sensing my footsteps.

I realized it was just the vanguard of an army of black beasts when I checked around the room.

While a pesky corps advanced on the wall, some bugs were stationed in the refrigerator, desk drawers, kitchen cabinets and wardrobes, which later made my heart pound whenever I opened or unveiled something.

After I found out that the cockroaches had even invaded the washing machine and a cooking pot, I dashed out to a supermarket to buy a can of pesticide and came back to begin a massive shooting.

Stunned by the spray, bugs fell down from the wall like raindrops and many others scuttled out from their hidden nests.

I left the room to avoid the insecticide's disagreeable odor and when I returned later, I found that my apartment had turned into a battlefield filled with roaches' corpses.

That night, I did not find traces of roaches and with a sigh of relief I celebrated my victory.

Boy, was I wrong. The next morning I saw a big cockroach crawling on my toothbrush, cockily waving its tentacles and it appeared to be sneering.

Completely freaked out, I threw my toothbrush and picked up the pesticide to eliminate the brash creature.

Soon after the new round of anti-bug bombing, I calmed down and started analyzing why cockroaches thrived in my house.

The reasons: No one had lived in this apartment for about two weeks. Vinegar, soy sauce and some food were left on the oil-tinged table. Plus, the summer in Fuzhou is overbearingly humid.

A perfect environment for the roaches, I assumed.

From then on, spraying the corners of the room in the morning, getting rid of the corpses and cleaning up at night have become my daily routine.

In China, cockroaches have a popular nickname, Xiao Qiang (Little Mighty), which was coined by Hong Kong actor Stephen Chow in his classic slapstick Flirting Scholar.

The nickname has been widely used to refer to something Chinese believe is hard to kill and one famous example is Jack Bauer, a counter terrorist agent in American TV series 24, who never dies.

I can truly feel the essence of the nickname now.

Despite my painstaking efforts, the critters continue to pop out from every corner. It is so disturbing and disgusting that I have since developed a knee-jerk reaction at the sight of any black spot, which, in many cases, turns out to be just a black spot.

One weekend night, I sat in front of the TV to relax myself. Sidney Lumet's Network happened to be on.

But my cinematic appetite was quickly spoiled when several roaches wandered onto the TV screen. I cried the same line as Peter Finch yelled in the film, "I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it any more!"

I knew what didn't kill them made them stronger. The bugs had overcome the pesticide and they had become more powerful raiders.

After I had abandoned the spray, I looked for some new weapons the next day. I was glad to find a type of poisonous bait that is said to be able to eradicate cockroaches.

The bait was supposed to attract the cockroaches and poison them to death. The dead bodies will be the meals for its relatives, which will die, too.

I also bought some sticky traps to serve as double insurance.

I placed those "mines" in my house and I have been finding dead roaches every day.

The good news is up till now, I think I have eliminated all the big bugs and I am left to deal with some boy scouts. I know it is going to be a long-term warfare.

My fear of loneliness is unfounded because I am busy fighting those creepy crawlies. And I am certain I won't be feeling lonely after I have eventually wiped them out because by that time, I'm sure I would have already been accustomed to life in Fuzhou and have made new friends.

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