Children could make great fiction writers. Many of them have
an over-active imagination that leads to the fear of monsters, bogeymen,
insects, talking teddy bears, Spiderman masks. The most innocuous of them all
are insects. What could a small insect do to a five-year-old, sting at the most
but ask the kid, he would probably say that the insect wanted to eat him.

To him a delicate harmless moth is like a flying dragon of
sorts. For the small kids, anything which doesn’t look human is to be seen as a
child-eating monster. That’s why the chimpanzee is such a favourite among
youngsters; it must be that next-to-human face. Who would fear monsters if they
had the cute looks of a chimp.

But then the devil king of all insects, the scourge of the
six-legged world does not look anything like a chimp. Enter the cockroach! This
bug has been around since the dinosaurs. Let alone children, even grown-ups run
helter-skelter when one of these begins to fly. What is it about flying
cockroaches; they don’t look as threatening while scurrying along the
floor.  On a more personal note, I am
afraid of the so called, ‘Flying Cockroach since time immemorial. We live on
the second floor of our house which is frequented by cockroaches of various
kinds. The toilet has an old-fashioned drain, through which three or four
cockroaches come out for a stroll every night. One of them always turns out to
be the flying type.

But I realised that the cockroach is actually quite a
handsome insect when compared to others. A spider has ugly gangling legs, the
ant has a disproportionate body; the wasp has an awful sense of colour scheme.
Black and yellow horizontal stripes look fattening. The’ roach’, on the other
hand is smartly dressed in chocolate brown, chocolate being a favourite of many
children.

It does not show-off, like the butterfly, lives
unobtrusively in the gutter, finishes off what you don’t want to eat. The wasp
can sting; the ant can bite and the mere sight of a spider can knock you
senseless while the cockroach has none of these vices. Maybe it is not so
graceful a flyer but then the peacock can’t fly either.

One can conclude that the cockroach is no monster, not even
when it’s flying. With more than 16 years of experience since I was born and
after having studied closely the anatomy of this creature, I should be able to
teach a one year old not to be afraid of this wonderful embodiment of natural
history, yet when it flies, I still run!

 By Saronyo Lal Mukherjee 

Coordinator, Class XI, South Point High School