I woke up yesterday morning to a cockroach crawling on my bedroom floor, it couldn’t have been larger than one segment of my thumb but I was so disgusted I ran out to the kitchen to grab the spray can of cockroach killer and just let it rip barely an inch away from the creature. It was probably the cockroach equivalent of acid rain, and I watched it. I watched it being doused in the microscopic droplets of its demise; it immediately recoiled and flung itself through the open door into a corner of my closet, scrambling against the magazine-lined floor for any kind of relief. It got none, by then I was already smothering it with unnecessary spritzes of the aerosol — instead I took this opportunity to sit myself down, tucking in my legs to watch the kill unfold. It twitched and shuddered and like in a Sunday morning cartoon, then promptly rolled over, the muscles in its legs twitching comically. It was a small one but I could see the clearly defined hairs on its legs, its rust-colored exoskeleton shiny and wet with poison. Its feelers and antennae no longer straight and stiff, curled up like a fallen hair from a head. Spasms ran through it for a good three minutes. Was it fighting for life? Probably not — I read somewhere that insects don’t feel pain; the muscle spasms were just a biological reaction to the paralyzing agents in the spray, or whatever. Somehow knowing this took the smugness and fun out of watching it squirm. But what did the cockroach ever do to me, anyway, to deserve to die? Just knowing that it existed and was in my vicinity was enough for me to send it to the guillotine.
I remember once when I was in primary school I caught a flying insect and held it down on my paper with the tip of a mechanical pencil. Using another, I ripped its right wing off. Did I feel guilty then?
When it stopped moving I bundled it up with a wad of toilet paper. I unceremoniously crushed it in my palm as I left the room — I felt the cracking of its exoskeleton — then tossed it in the toilet bowl and flushed. I washed my hands twice. Somehow they still felt dirty.
I returned to my room, greeted by the lingering smell of pesticide and my questionable guilt. I knew I could air the room to get rid of the former.