The scariest moment in the film Jurassic Park was when the T-Rex is standing above the cars, containing two adults and two kids.
Just before the dinosaur attacks, the mathematician character (played by Jeff Goldblum) tells the kids that they must stay completely still as the T-rex doesn’t have good eyesight and can only see moving objects. They follow the instructions and survive, while the surly accountant runs for it and gets eaten alive.
Many animals use this tactic — staying stock still — as a defensive tactic. What I didn’t expect was to find myself reacting to such a scenario and uncovering a deeply buried hunter instinct within myself.
I’m staying in an old house in Kathmandu and I share it with my brother and various insects. I also came across three baby kittens in a big box — and then their mother, the neighbour’s cat, carried them off in her mouth, lithely jumping from rooftop to rooftop.
My first meeting with a cockroach was in the kitchen. I saw it in the cutlery drawer; it froze and I tried to crush it with a fork. It moved with incredible speed and managed to get under the fridge before I could get it.
The New Scientist says that the cockroach “is one of the fastest-moving insects on Earth.”
Meanwhile, every night mosquitoes zoom in on my exposed flesh. As soon as I turn off the light they patrol the room and make raids into my ears. They wake me up and I slap my ears, trying to kill them. My hunter instincts were being awoken.
And then one night, when the light was still on, I saw a huge cockroach moving fast towards my bed. I don’t mind insects, I respect them for the important role they play in nature, but I’m not too keen on sleeping with them.
Often I ignore insects, especially the small flying types, but every time I see a cockroach my killer instinct comes out — immediately — and there is no time for thought, just action. It has to die.
But I had learned my lesson in the kitchen; I knew I had to be fast, stealthy and accurate.
The cockroach had frozen and was waiting for the danger to pass. He thought I couldn’t see him. I had a few seconds to find a weapon, but what? I kept my eyes locked onto him and assumed that he was watching me too. I moved in slow motion as my instinct told me that any sudden movements would send him scurrying off.
At the other end of the bed was a hardback copy of a book I’m reading: Kathmandu, by Thomas Bell. It’s a heavy book, consisting of 463 pages of rather confusing (but entertaining) observation and I’m learning a lot from it. It was an ideal weapon, but I had to make sure it landed flat on my victim, or he would be off.
It was a perfect landing. I lifted up the book and saw that I had mortally wounded him — I had burst his stomach and there was brown gunge all over the back cover. He was on his back and all six legs were moving frantically (if he hadn’t been on his back he’d be running across my bed, dribbling guts everywhere). I grabbed a tissue, crushed the life out of him, threw him in the toilet and then cleaned up the evidence.
I went to bed, satisfied as a hunter after a kill, and hoping that none of his mates would crawl over my face during the night.