Arshid Malik

I have always dreaded creepy-crawly insects and for reasons I don’t know. On a psychoanalytic plane my best guess for this fear finds its roots deep in childhood. Elders in the family always tend to shoo away children by way of mentioning some “it” that would come and get them. Now this “it” supposedly turns out to be a ghost sometimes, some old wicked hag or some crawling insect that would “coming and get them” while they are out doing nasty stuff, all of which forms part of their fantastic outlook about the world around us.

A very creepy one, I would say. So children tend to believe everything that their parents or guardians tell them as they are the only authoritative knowledge base children tend to know and connect with. When this “something coming to get you” is uttered by elders children tended to visualize the “it” coming to get them and since children are very creative the visualization process turns into a pseudo-truth which is the only truth they know and this eventually becomespart of their psycho-social standpoint.

As children grow up with passing years these “constructed truisms” pass off into the unconscious to return later at the slightest prick of the actual visual comprehension. This is how fears actually work. And mine is no different, though I have come to comprehend another facet of childhood “phobias”, especially those which involve the creepy crawlies.

Children actually need to spend more time outdoors so that they come to terms with the existing natural world around them. Children also need to be taught early about all kinds of life forms that exist on a planet and perhaps first hand experiences work better in this case.

While this kind of stuff is regularly incorporated into the pre-school curriculum in the developed parts of the world, it is still a necessary do away for all of us back here. As children we would go out for picnics and camps, but we were kept from handling nature on our own. Our picnics and camps were all about “meal times” while little stress was paid on actually introducing us to the “lively jungle” out there.

So an ant remained a mystery for us as did the frog. Yes, we were taught names of animals, birds and insects but practically there was no exposure. At the end of the story it was all alien for us, except some unnoticed personal encounters.

When an earthworm crept out of the soil while we were busy digging out soil and lay to construct a model with a moat, we would run in all directions crying out for help to our parents and elder kith and kin. This was city life and I am sure it is not the same about villages. Village people as also children have regular encounters with the natural world. It is a part of their lives, while we city people relied on schools to teach us a thing or two on a first-hand basis and that never happened.

After having grown up to the extent of getting old, I realize how incomplete my childhood was as was the case about the rest of the children I knew while I was at it. All I got out of it were fears that still haunt me.

Anyways, having come a long way from home, my childhood memories and stuff, I realize that insect life has changed in a major way. I come in contact with insects that were hitherto unknown. The roaches have grown about five sizes and infest every home and hearth. The ants have developed strange characteristics as is the case with arachnids and rest of the insect life. I had never known a spider that could sting you and send you spiralling across to the hospital for weeks of chemotherapy and stuff.

The earthworms seem to have disappeared or perhaps I don’t notice them anymore as I don’t deal in soil. The mosquitoes have developed a mind and so have the houseflies. As a child I would kill a fly with a swatter but these days they presumably know that you are after them and I loose a lot of sweat attempting to get one, which rarely happens. There are thousands of insects out there that I had never come across as a child. I guess it is all because we as people have changed immensely. Our food habits, living habits, sleeping habits and all have undergone a major change.

Although it all looks fine from a considerable distance but the truth is that we have only messed it up in every possible way. The amount of waste material that comes out of homes everyday is immense and the garbage pits and containers have fallen short of size to accumulate all our refuse. We have outgrown traditional patterns and the insect life has evolved to match it in size and form. I guess the chemicals and gases we use to get rid them in turn make them stronger and more immune to all kinds of extermination.

I had personally come a long way attempting to cure my fears via self-therapy but I must admit that I am not able enough to outrun the outrage of this “almost mutated” infestation.   


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