Creepy Cockroaches

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Footsteps, yarns and little fibs
There was an invasion of big, big cockroaches!

Submitted: August 20, 2016

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Submitted: August 20, 2016






Of the four thousand odd species of cockroach, only about thirty are considered important in their association with human habitats. They are the carpet sweepers of nature and perform a useful role, but nobody likes them, especially when they invade peoples’ homes! Cockroaches are perceived as being synonymous with dirt and filth.

They are quite rare in our home area, and I have never seen one inside our house, but very occasionally I spot one outside, usually in the compost heap. Here cockroaches have plenty of competition outside as slaters, aka woodlice, which carry out much the same function.

The biggest cockroach I had seen before arriving at Sanawari was less than twenty five millimetres long, so I was surprised to see one that was as big as a mouse! I remained calm at the sighting because I knew my manner would translate to Mags’ reaction and I didn’t want to alarm her, but on the other hand I didn’t want mouse-size cockroaches prowling around the house!

My sister had given me a flyswat as a going-away gift because she did not like the thought of African bugs and I had acquiesced to take it with us because it hardly effected our weight allowance. I missed swatting the cockroach because the bloody thing up and flew away at my approach! A mouse-sized cockroach that flies!

We became quite used to the big cockroaches and not too severe on them, because their numbers did not seem to be too great and that flyswat made a real mess of them - a big splat, usually on the floor with stomach bits flying in all directions!  When I did swat them I had to be quick because the big fat buggers had a remarkable turn of speed.

I knew very well where the cockroaches came from. A cow was housed very close to our bathroom wall. This is called zero grazing and all food and water is brought to the penned cow but in this particular case the cow was not well cared for and quantities of her food was unpalatable so was left uneaten. The waste was pushed with her bodily waste to the back of the pen and left to fester. That is where the cockroaches lived and bred, it was like Christmas dinner to them!

The only furniture supplied in our house was the narrow double bed, a couch and two dusty chairs. So I bought some rough-sawn timber and made some shelves for the bathroom to store tooth brushes and other bathroom stuff. I also bought some wooden tomato boxes to use as tables and for storage.

Anyway, big cockroaches do big poo and I noticed some delightfully big poo on the bathroom shelf, so I shifted it to have a look behind it. There was a brown flurry of movement! Dozens of cockroaches were camping there dining, no doubt, on our toothbrush bristles, soap and goodness knows what else!

Enough is enough so I went into town to buy a can of insect spray that claimed it also killed cockroaches, it was aptly named Doom! I had heard that cockroaches were able to live through a nuclear holocaust, so the power of this Doom stuff must have been incredible!

Baraka, Sindila’s firstborn, in his wisdom decided to set fire to the waste heap at the back of the cow pen! The thick smoke together with its fragrance wafted through our house and attached itself to bedding, clothes, food and even skin!

That night sleep did not come easy, half choking and made worse by a terrible racket in the kitchen. A continuous, loud scratching sound!

The racket got the better of me so I had to check it out!

I had a sizable collection of empty beer cans. Ah-ha, wrong assumption! I hardly contributed to the collection; I had spread the word among the expat community for empty beer cans because I drilled a small hole into the bottom of them and took them to schools to plant beside trees so as to facilitate water-economical irrigation. That is why I had several cartons of empty beer cans.

Baraka’s fire had driven the cockroaches in all directions including into the house, the smell of sugar inside the beer cans must have attracted them to climb in for a feed, but the inside of the can was to slippery for their feet, so they could not extract themselves. Perhaps thousands of scrawny, brown, prickly legs – or feet – scraping against aluminium cans created the racket! And to this day I swear they were screaming in fear!

One by one I carried the rowdy cartons of cans complete with their cockroach cargo outside, while Mags manned the Doom can to attend to the leakage!

The rest of the night was spent picking up the dead, and finishing off the dying and tossing them outside!

The next day I walked into town to buy another can of Doom.



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