What I Learnt From A Cockroach

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And then, as I am standing in the rain, hearing thunder and seeing lightning, I cannot believe the absurdity – a giant cockroach has kicked me out of the apartment.

I was actually about to meditate. Just before moving to my meditation corner, a cockroach flies in through the open window and lands on the carpet. Then it runs up to the wall reaching the curtain next to the door, and that’s where I last see her. The electricity suddenly cuts off.

Of course, I am in India where two calamities should happen at the same time. Now what? I am standing like frozen. If this was me a year ago, I would probably rush to the other room, grab the insect poison and spray it on the curtain. The cockroach would die. But now that I have become a Peace Agent at Peace Revolution. I am committed not to kill even the smallest human beings, including cockroaches that I am so scared of.

I am enveloped in a complete darkness, afraid to make a step forward or turn back. It’s a flying cockroach, so it can attack me anytime. Even to leave the apartment is not easy: I need to pass by that curtain where I saw her last time. Yet, I don’t want to stay in one room with a cockroach. I pluck up my courage, carefully move towards the door, then open it quietly, and leave.

Outside, it’s already dark. The apartment where I stay is situated on the last floor, so what opens to my horizon, is a large, spacious terrace. Though it’s March, the weather outside is just like in the monsoon period in India: strong wind, rain, thunder, and lightning, so I try to escape that all by hiding on the stairway that has a roof. No one knows when the electricity would come back, so to pass time I decide to meditate. I sit down and already close my eyes, but not for long: the rainwater that flows from terrace soon makes my pants soaked. It becomes discomforting, so I am forced to end my session. I stand up and lean against the handrail. Thunder is rumbling above my head with such power as if trying to tell me something as if punishing me for something. Then I remember last summer. When I was traveling with a friend in Nepal, I stayed at a simple guesthouse in Pokhara. We changed our rooms three times because all of them were full of cockroaches. We sprayed the poison everywhere and killed tens of them, only to be able to sleep. No, it was not a sound sleep anyway. At night, I had nightmares of crocodiles attacking me.

And now there is one cockroach in my apartment. A three-bedroom apartment, in fact. “So, enjoy,” I tell the cockroach. “Feel free to rest in my bed or take a shower. There is some food in the kitchen. Make yourself feel comfortable. I won’t be disturbing you but won’t join you either. Hope you understand.”

While I am growing into accepting my fear and the bad weather, I see two ladies coming up to the terrace. As they notice me standing outside, one of them asks:

“Is your apartment locked?”

“No,” I reply.

“Then why are you standing outside?” the lady wants to know.

I don’t know what to say. It would probably sound ridiculous if I told them I got kicked out by a cockroach. But this is exactly what happened.

“There’s a giant cockroach inside, and I am scared,” I tell them.

They giggle, then one of them says: “Come to my apartment.”

“Yes, come to our apartment,” the other one joins in.

Their invitation comes like a gift, so I decide to follow. They live one floor below. A mother and a daughter-in-law. They have the backup system for electricity cuts, so we can enjoy talking with a light on. They notice my soaked pants, yet they offer me to sit on the couch providing me with a dry cloth. Now, also the father and the son join us. They only smile, listening to my cockroach story and treat me to an Indian sweet to swallow the dreadful experience. We exchange some friendly talks that the neighbors usually don’t do without a reason, and once the electricity comes back, I am ready to walk upstairs to my apartment. I slowly open the door and slid in. The light is on. I look around the rooms and the kitchen. The cockroach has disappeared. Just like my fear.

I guess, it’s now time for meditation.

The story was originally published on Peace Revolution Blog.

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