May 3, 2012

Kitchen Tales

You know how people have family rituals?   Like the mandatory Friday night movie session, the Saturday morning oil bath, the Christmas baking, the Diwali laegiam.  That kind !

There is one family ritual that one particular family is subjected to - the monthly cleansing of the kitchen (strangely coinciding with the PMS cycle of the mistress of the house, that prompts thoughts of "if the kitchen gets any dirtier than this, I'll kill someone").  Usually the kitchen cleaning routine involves changing the paper lining on all shelves, discarding food items that have developed sense organs, and scrubbing the counter top and sinks of their thriving micro-and not-so-micro ecosystem.    The microcosm includes a stray lizard (which the lady does not mind, really, they are not very threatening) and an odd cockroach or two, that she minds terribly, which are promptly smashed to pulp.

Usually, that is.

Yesterday's kitchen cleaning was different.  Of course, the papers were changed, discolourised food items discarded, the counters scrubbed etc.   What was strange was the absence of living matter apart from the mistress of the kitchen and her helper lady. Where is that stray lizard?  Where are those odd cockroaches?

The maid, with a rare insight that only maids can have, caught hold of the insect repellent spray ("HIT"), and like 007 and his licence to kill, directed it against the no-man's land beneath the sink.  Soon, one cockroach fell out. Get the slipper.  Smash.  Then another. Smash again.  One more. Smash.  And then it happened.  An  avalanche.  About hundred roaches succumbed to the joint forces of HIT and gravity and scurried hither thither, unmindful of the weird noise that emanated from the whereabouts of the woman's vocal chords.

The single slipper being sadly inadequate for defense operations, the lady of the house sought refuge in the broom stick. Brandishing the palm-vein broom in one hand and the soft-broom on the other, like Kali Ma, the woman thrashed the floor wildly, while the maid resorted to more modern chemical warfare, spraying the obnoxious liquid specifically around her mistress's nose, as though the chemical would find way through her body into the weapons.

You think cockroaches, those tiny little living beings, are harmless little creatures?  Those tiny little creatures kept two fully-grown women brandishing deadly broomsticks, on their feet, doing acrobatics for the next two hours, as the critters sprinted around, under the newly changed papers, over the freshly cleaned counters, and even out of the battle area (not fair) into the bedroom, the office room, and the living room before you could say "Periplanata Americana".  And so the next few hours were spent smashing cockroaches, having their white gut spill out, and their broken compound limbs littering the entire house, the house smelling of the unique cockroach perfume you wouldn't get in Paris for a million dollars.

This happened yesterday.  And no, the war isn't over.  When least expected, one single roach peeks out of an unexpected corner it chose to hide like a coward during the war yesterday.  So, the woman has been walking around the house wearing the slipper on her palm, on the ready.

There must be a hell for killers, and the lady of the house has guaranteed her place there.  At least she knows where she is going after her life on earth, plagued by roaches, ends.   It can't be much worse than the kitchen,can it?


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