It was the Fly.
I knew for a certainty. I knew it when I saw the gigantic, black, gleaming eyes at my window – and their cold, unblinking stare.
I knew it when I heard its shriek from across the years. And somehow deep inside, I had always known it would come looking for me.
When I opened my eyes – or maybe my eyes were already open, how can I tell? – it was gone. There was nothing at the window. Merely the night, and the lights from the streets. But I knew it was there, biding its time, watching me, waiting.
The worst of it was knowing that it was not my mistake – it was not a mistake at all, it was intentional.
I had left it to die, and when it screeched, I had poured water over it.
My Mother always said that we’re allowed to kill only one being in this world. Well, she said we shouldn’t kill any living thing, of course, but I pestered her with questions: What about the cockroach? What about the mosquito? What about the fly?
Scare off the cockroach, she said. We can’t kill it anyway. It is built to survive nuclear bombs. Our poisons would only send it into a trance. Let the housefly out, she said. You can’t kill all of them – they have this employment exchange where when one is killed, the other gets the job. Just let it out.
But isn’t it unhygienic? Aren’t flies the ones spreading diseases, and so on? I didn’t want to let those creatures free.
Yes – for that we need to keep our surroundings clean, my wise Mom said. Give no chance for the flies to come. That’s how we solve that issue, not by killing one at a time.
What about the mosquito? I said.
Well, I think that’s the only creature we are allowed to lay our hands on. She didn’t explain any further.
So we killed mosquitoes every evening, in large numbers. The mosquito army swarmed in as soon as the sun set. We would wave the electric hunter bat, and hear the click-click-click of mosquitoes getting electrocuted. We were fascinated first and then infatuated with the operation. We fought for the possession of the bat. We took turns – every one got five minutes with the bat – and we would compare numbers, who was the best mosquito hunter? There would be a pile of dead bodies at the corner of the house every day, and a smoky smell of burnt life. When the day’s assault was over, one of us would jump over the pile to ensure that any half dead ones were finished.
Never before or since had I found such joy from massacre.
The fly came in one day through an open window. By mistake, evidently. It must have lost its way.