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The Relation between Cockroaches and Panic - Act 2


[The following is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to any creature, living, dead or non-living, is purely coincidental]

This is the completely, insanely true (??) story based on a true (??) story of a day in the life of A-Person-Really-Scared-Of-Cockroaches. According to the story so far: Appu was in panic. "Be-kind-to-cockroach-week" was really getting to him and causing big problems (based on small cockroaches for him). However, this story is not about the escapades of one crazy "Appu" but instead is about the daring escape of the cockroach trapped in Appu’s room in the first part of this ridiculous series.

The room was dark, very dark. Okay, I know that I am exaggerating to build up an atmosphere, but it was dark. And, the only living thing in this room was a small, insignificant creature, referred to by our species as a cockroach. The reason why I have not mentioned germs is that I do not know all their names and do not want to make any mistakes. Back to the situation at hand, Mr. Cockroach was all alone in the room awaiting certain doom. It could just picture its wife telling it at its grave "I told you not to go venture into that human’s house, but nooooooo, Mr. Brave Cockroach just had to". The way it had come in was now blocked off by a large amount of cloth, which tasted too terrible to even eat through. Why couldn’t humans choose and use better tasting cloth?

The sole inhabitant of the room surveyed its surroundings. In one corner was what we call a computer in between a jungle of wires. Next to that, in the adjacent corner, was a large steel cupboard, which was looming over a structure that looked faintly similar to a bed. Below the bed-like structure, was a civilization of it plastic scrap derived from what the cockroach thought to be the epitome of the by-product of the human civilization (of course, Mr. Cockroach didn’t understand what it thought, but it thought it nonetheless). Finally, there was another door, which the cockroach supposed to be its only means of escape, with the only other visible exit blocked.

As the cockroach was studying its possible means of escape, it heard a sound, which, to a cockroach, sounded as deafening as a nuclear blast a 100 metres away (however, in a human ear the sound would have barely been noticeable). The sound was Appu trying to slam the front door as hard as possible, which was not, by any human standards, very loud. As the door of the room opened, the cockroach, in fear of another nuclear blast, hid under the bed-like structure to take cover from the "shockwave". Appu entered the room and slammed the door (which again was not at all a strong slam) and sat down on a chair in front of the computer, panting (neither was any scientific reason was ever deduced for his panting nor did anyone ever try).

Appu was in an utterly confused state of mind. His whole sense of reality was crumbling around him. The whole world (at least the area where he was residing) was going pro-cockroaches. He had, luckily for both him and the cockroach in his room, completely forgotten that he had "trapped" a cockroach in his room. If, at the time, Appu did remember the cockroach he trapped, then he probably would have caused a lot of problems for his neighbors and also for some people in white suits from the local mental rehabilitation facility. However, no such thing happened and the world had fewer problems to deal with. Instead, Appu sat there, on his chair, panting.

The cockroach, which probably felt very irritated at the lack of positive attention towards it in the last paragraph, was still underneath the bed-like structure studying the human and planning its daring escape. However, it had only one thought taking over its mind - it, like scientists who did not exist there, was wondering why the human was panting. However, the cockroach did not take advantage of the panting human’s situation in fear of the human flying all over the room with a tin can in his hand, again. All that it did was wait as a cheetah waits for the gazelle (the cockroach had no idea what cheetahs and gazelles were and did not understand why it was thinking thoughts that it did not understand in the first place).

About half a metre away from the cockroach that could not understand what it thought, Appu sat panting and suddenly thought "Why am I panting?". Immediately he stopped and saved millions of living creatures (particularly the cockroach) the task of wondering why the human was panting. The next thought that went through Appu’s mind (Appu’s current flow of thoughts was something, if the rest of the universe knew, would have sent it into a frenzy) was "Didn’t I trap a cockroach in my room before I left?". Contrary to what I said earlier about Appu not remembering the cockroach, Appu went ahead and proved me wrong. Luckily for the world though, he did not create the chaos that was anticipated. Instead, he sat still and thought (if Appu thought again, the Universe would have collapsed) "I’ll sit still and wait for that cockroach to run away, assuming that it is still here".

The cockroach, in the meantime, had come up with a brainstorm of its own. It finally decided to stay put and wait for the human to leave or make his move. Well, instead of staying and describing the utter stillness with which the human and cockroach waited, I’ll move ahead, by … 27 hours, to be exact, when both of them moved for the first time in … 27 hours. However, it must be said (for reasons too satanic to reveal) that the "degree of stillness" with which the Appu and the cockroach remained was a feat that would have won an Olympic gold medal if there was a competition for staying still.

So here I am, 27 hours later, when both Appu and the cockroach thought (the universe didn’t crumble with Appu’s thought because it got time to recuperate) "If the other chap is not moving then he must be (a) dead or (b) not here". Both, Appu and the cockroach, felt excited at the proposition that the others existence or non-existence was not going to have any bearings on the situation and both took the all-important decision to move. One would have hoped for creaking, but for a lack of any sound facilities here, there was no such sound. Both of them moved – Appu got up from the chair and the cockroach came out from under the bed-like structure. Then IT happened! The "moment of truth" had arrived. Appu and the cockroach knew that the final confrontation was at hand.

Appu mustered up all the courage he could (which was so little that he telepathically stole the courage of his neighbor’s dog) and the cockroach did the same. The two revolved around an imaginary axis along a circle, standing exactly opposite to each other. They completed approximately half a revolution, when Appu felt tired and stopped. By an unexplainable twist of fate, the cockroach faced the door by which he entered – now its only exit since the cloth had been moved. Appu twitched his nose (how and why he did it is yet another unsolvable mystery). The cockroach moved its antennae. Appu yelled and jumped. The cockroach faced its worst fear yet again – the human was flying. Nevertheless, it conquered its fears and scurried off, under the flying human, through the gap between the door and the floor and escaped to freedom. Appu, however, was not so lucky. The next thing that Appu heard and felt after taking off for his 2 second flight was a loud bang, which sounded like the crash of a head against a steel cupboard, and a terrible ache all over his head.

The cockroach did escape and return home, only to be killed by some human the following week. Appu got over his traumatic experience and recuperated very well, especially since the following week was declared "Kill-every-cockroach-you-see-week" to counteract the growth of cockroaches in the past week. He even won an award for "most-kills-while-wearing-a-large-stupid-looking-bandage-over-one’s-head" and, thus, life went on.