In response to “Iran a reflection”
Everyone knows cockroaches move quickly and hide well. Their survival skills are incredible as they’re fragile but swift. Back in those days of war and heat, Tehran had a variety of cockroaches; the heat of the city was a great place for them.
During night time air raids, we had to wake up and move to our make shift shelter. I would try to spot roaches in the dark. Being nocturnal, they ran away as soon as we turned the lights on.
One night, I slept next to Aziz. In the middle of the night, I opened my eyes and noticed a huge cockroach on her nose. It was black and at least four centimeters long and when I screamed, it flew off her nose. That bastard could fly!
Since roaches usually outmaneuvered me, the easiest way to kill them was with chemicals. Spray in hand, I used to follow the buggers (always from a reasonable distance) as they tried to escape and spray them directly on the face, although sometimes it turned out to be the ass.
Roaches are a lot like mullahs and are tough to get rid of. It took a lot of spray to kill the fat ones and chemical poisoning was a real threat. My own life was on the line so maman kept the spray out of my reach, apparently I over used it. Another problem was that sprays left a stain on the wall and baba was obsessed about the paint. I had to clean up the scene of the crime before he got involved. Naturally, without witnesses, if needed, one could easily blame it on Roghieh later on!
Sometimes, my parents complained that we had to be frugal and cut back on using the spray. Necessity is the mother of invention and so we developed other ways of killing roaches.
Kickers and Addidas were cool. But everyone (even if they deny it today) owned a pair of Otaafuko shoes from Kafsheh Melli store (or was it Mellat, Bella, Della or …). They were so ugly no one wore them in public. If you opted for chasing a cockroach with pure homicidal mania, your best weapon was an Otaafuko shoe. It was healthy and frugal.
Every Iranian kid knows the golden rule of Iranian family life: never spill ANYTHING on the Persian carpet. Especially if they are antiques, wedding presents or inherited from a beloved dead relative you’ve never met. In short, this method took tact and precision.
If you chased a cockroach under a Persian carpet, you never whacked it directly on the carpet. Thus, more often than not, this method turned into a game of rolling the carpet with the goal of leaving the soosk completely exposed and vulnerable and forcing it to come off the carpet. When you finally cornered it, you smacked it with Otaafuko. To dispose of the cadaver, we used to gently slide the tip of the Otaafuko under the dead soosk and flip it on the shoe. That way, no one actually touched the hideous beast. Then it was flushed down the GUEST toilet.
Sometimes, my friends and I used to name our battles with cockroaches, reflecting what we saw on TV. For example, “Amaleeyaateh Ghatleh Aameh Sooskhayeh Monaafegh” or “Amaleeyaateh Sooskar-bala 5”.
Small roaches were light brown and moved fast. Dark roaches were larger and usually had wings. Sometimes, we called black cockroaches “Seyyed”, emphasizing their direct descent from the Prophet. Did you know that roaches leave chemical trails in their feces and use it for mating purposes? I always thought only mullahs did that.
I once saw a lizard in Tehran, hiding behind a flower pot. I was shocked. My father chased it for a while and finally smacked it. Of course, the tail fell off and the thing escaped.
Years later, in Turkey, I saw lizards gathered by the hundreds, hiding in the bushes. In the early morning hours, I smoked my cigarette and watched them patiently from a distance.
I can still hear their little bodies moving hurriedly. The sound resonates in my memory:”ft-ft-ft-ft-ft”.
I’m not afraid of lizards anymore. On hot summer mornings, they’re nothing but tiny creatures moving through the wet morning dew of all that is green. As for those cockroaches, if they could appreciate the green beauty of nature, they wouldn’t be in doors and in the dark.