I asked Saul, this ten-year-old know-it-all I nanny, “how do you feel about killing ants?” His response was “that question makes me very uncomfortable.”
I only started thinking deeply about insects when I became more spiritual. Because when you detach soul from body, you recognize each body has a soul. Even ant bodies. But this story is not about an ant. It’s about a wasp. One that lived in my apartment for three days.
At first I thought dammit, when the wasp flew in from my balcony into my apartment one night. Not because I dislike wasps. I had nothing personal against that specific wasp. But I live with my sister. And a wasp might be a nuisance to her.
I didn’t particularly mind the wasp. I didn’t mind the gnat living in our apartment either. But that was one cool gnat. He caught my attention every time he flew across my face. I watched him circle around, and imagined his thrill riding around my enormous human head, with faith in his wings to fly away at any given moment. He even began appearing in the moments I needed it most. When I would find myself growing anxious or annoyed, the gnat would take another field trip to my head, dancing around, demanding my attention.
But wasps are bigger, more noticeable than gnats, and easier to kill. So I felt bad for its’ impending death.
Luckily for the wasp, my sister and I were visiting my family for the weekend. It had the entire apartment to itself. I deliberated on whether or not I should leave food out for the wasp to eat but then I realized I might also attract ants and other bugs and then I’d have to have that awkward conversation with myself at the supermarket looking for insect repellent.
Maybe it has come to die, I resolved myself to thinking. It is peacefully awaiting its own death.
But I was wrong. It sounded very much in pain as it flew against the walls, fluttering its wings and gaining my attention on a quiet night on the third day. I was writing something about animals. The timing was amazing. I couldn’t just ignore this suffering wasp as it dies right in front of me. So I decided to do something.
The plan was to capture it and let it free outside. So, I stood in the middle of the room, put my palms up and waited. The wasp flew around some more but never landed in my palms. I tried coaxing it. That didn’t work either. My ceiling is too high, I could never reach it.
Then I remembered a trick my mother used to do to shoo the flies away at home. She learned this trick from her life in the villages of Egypt. She would turn off all of the lights inside of our house and keep only the light outside the front door turned on. Then she would take some type of cloth and wave it around to produce wind and get the flies bothered enough to fly around and eventually out through the front door towards the light!
So I turned off all of my lights and kept the balcony light open. It wasn’t long before I heard the wasp, with its fluttering wings, fly out through the door!
I have to admit. I was a little bit sad to see that little one go. I mean I wanted it to eat and reunite with its friends, but it had served as a great reminder that I wasn’t alone in my quiet apartment that night.
Almost as if it read my mind, this wasp came flying back towards the door! I couldn’t believe it! It flew around as I almost squealed from excitement. It finally took off into the night and I looked after it like a mother dropping her child off to his first day of school.
Did the wasp really come back for me? Does the gnat visit me? Or am I just projecting the patterns I want to see?
UPDATE 6 WEEKS LATER:
So, I left a shell of the watermelon I was slicing out on my kitchen counter overnight. I know. Laziness. And I woke up to a swarm of gnats feasting on it. I didn’t know my gnat friend could asexually reproduce, or if he just skipped the whole thing and cloned himself a thousand times. So anyway, my kitchen was infested with gnats.
It was a painful realization. I knew what I had to do.
I stood in the middle of the kitchen, in the middle of the tornado mob of gnats, and dreadfully poured gnat poison in a bowl (apple cider vinegar + dishwasher soap).
A day later and the entire bowl was filled with fallen martyrs. Dead gnats in the bowl, around the bowl, and on the counter near the bowl. I watched upon the genocide of my own doing and immediately felt what the mother of dragons must have felt as she watched over Kings Landing burning in flames.