Breaking the mould

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Little Crip was running for his life. He zigged for a bit as he scurried across the floor. Suddenly, without warning, he zagged. It was enough to thwart the giant chasing after him and his brethren. He knew that his comrades were being massacred behind him. The giant was without mercy. This place had been their home for months now, but all of a sudden, this blighted portly savage had shown up and started systematic genocide. He was taking no prisoners. Those that did not get swept to their deaths by his giant broom were squished under his giant boot. He knew that would be his fate too.

But the giant had to catch him first.

Crip made a hard turn to the left, and then to the right. He was almost at the door! Once he through there, he would probably be safe! The crazy giant was not going to follow him outside. That’s it! Just a few steps more. He’d almost made it! Ha. He sure showed that stupid giant. Then Crip stopped. He couldn’t just leave without having his say. He couldn’t speak, but he glared at the giant as if to say “You might have won now, you big ugly giant! You have butchered my brothers. But mark my words, I will return. I will avenge them. As god is my witness, I swear that I – Crip, the cockroach, will once again, infest your fri… (STOMP).

If Crip hadn’t stopped to glare for a bit, he wouldn’t have been stomped out of existence. But no, Crip is not the protagonist of this story. The fact that he’s a cockroach should have clued you in to that fact. No. Crip was the aggressor. Him and his army of disgusting relatives. The protagonist is me. I am the giant of the story.

Just because this article started from Crip’s perspective doesn’t make him the star.

I had been away from Dubai for a few months. I had a situation to handle back home in India. Being a die hard supporter of conserving energy, and an even bigger supporter of conserving money in my wallet, I cleverly shut off power to my apartment when I left.

That’s actually a good practice – Why waste energy when you’re just not going to use it at all? Most prudent energy savers take precautions. Simple stuff, like keeping the windows locked, covering up furniture so they don’t get dusty, and discarding all the perishable food in the place – especially the fridge.

Unfortunately, these prudent energy savers did not advice me in time. I switched off my non-empty fridge when I locked up, and didn’t even think about it until I got back. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised to find that the entire fridge was crawling with Crip’s cousins by the time I got back. But surprised, I was.

What do you do when find roughly two thousand cockroaches gleefully partying in your fridge? You take three steps back, jump two feet high, and scream unintelligibly like a little girl. At least, that’s what I did.

“Screamed like a little girl my foot. I’m tired of being stereotyped.”

I shut the door and made a hasty retreat. It wasn’t just the roaches – the fridge was full of mould. It was a literal homegrown bio-hazard. For the next half hour, I kept talking myself out of burning the house down.

I decided that I was vastly unqualified for handling this job. This demanded expert hands. This was a job for Supergirl. So I called up my wife.

The call did not go over well. Her precious kitchen was one phone-call away from being locked down by men in hazmat suits. Eventually, she calmed down. She suggested that I get professional help. I knew I should have turned off the fridge, but I thought that was uncalled for. Then she explained that she meant professional cleaning services.

“Interesting. Do you want to talk about what you thought she meant?”

But calling professional cleaners would have been counterproductive to my sacred prime directive: to cheap it out on everything but food and electronics. So I told her that I will manage this on my own. Knowing well how adept I was with tools more complex than a fork and a knife, she started worrying for my safety. She suggested that the best course of action was to discard the fridge completely and just buy a new one. Apparently, Supergirl thinks she’s married to Bruce Wayne.

I was determined to do this myself. My first order of business was to google “My fridge is infested with cockroaches, slime and mould. Help!”. That bombarded me with roughly forty ads for professional cleaners and two for the Ghostbusters movie. Then I decided to search message boards. It was there I learned about the roach-buster side effects of baking soda. Apparently, if you got them high on baking soda, it bloats them up and slows them down.

So I geared up like a low budget Walter White – I wore two sets of gloves, a face mask, and several rolled up newspapers to start my swat attack. I threw in small ‘grenades’ of baking soda and then closed the fridge. I let them wallow in the foggy cloud of the soda for a while, and then… I opened the fridge.

I expect that’s the same feeling one gets when one opens the gates of hell.

Some sprightly young roaches jumped out immediately, and I had to chase them around in a weird dance routine that involved a lot of stomping, a lot of sweeping, a lot of hand waving, and a disgusting amount of cleaning up afterwards. Many, including Crip, made a run towards the door, but I couldn’t risk them getting back in later on, so I gave chase and wiped them all out.

Once the roaches were done, it was on to the mould. I sploshed, scrubbed, rubbed, wiped and aired out every corner of the fridge multiple times just to make sure the mould was completely taken care of. Just to be safe, I burned off all the gloves, face masks and knee pads used for the process.

I was finally done.

It was an entire day’s work – exhausting and disgusting in equal measures. I was so happy to finally relax on the couch, my feet up on the desk. I was wondering if I managed to get all of the roaches… I mean – I got all that I was able to see, but it’s possible a few odd ones would have slipped my radar. After all, they were all scattering in many directions, and I was just one guy. Could some have slipped away? No, right? Maybe?

As I lay pondering, Crip’s even littler brother slunk in the darkness, underneath the oven – swearing vengeance.

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