Musings

Published:  01:08 AM, 09 November 2017

Living with rats and cockroaches

Living with rats and cockroaches

With a pair of tiny legs they run swiftly to escape the notice of human being. Yes, I speak of no other species than rats. Few animals in our surrounding dislike by human beings than rats. They are rodents or gnawing animals and are found in nearly every part of the world. There are rats, which probably do more harm than all other animals put together. These rats live wherever there are houses and towns. Rats reached Europe from the East by ship.

The black rats were the first to arrive and may have come in the ships bringing crusaders back home from fighting in Palestine during the 11-13th centuries. Rats do terrible damage by eating and spoiling stored foodstuffs. Statistics suggest that an estimated two million tons of food grains are yearly gobbled by rats in Bangladesh. Another statistics reveals that about 20 million tons of food grains, equivalent to Canada's annual wheat crop, is eaten by rats per year in India.

They love to eat the pages of old books lying uncared in the shelves not to acquire knowledge but to destroy humans' pursuit toward seeking knowledge. On some occasions, they play the role of barber to cut by their sharp teeth children's hair while in deep sleep. Rats' hair cut on human head is popularly known as 'rat-cut' causing enormous feeling of shame and laughter.  They have the great skills in making tunnels inside big dams, which may ultimately cause breaches to open floodgates.

Black rats are chiefly known as spreaders of bubonic plague, one of the world's worst diseases. This disease killed in millions in London in 1664-65. One of the main reasons why rats are so widespread is that they breed very fast. People wage continual war against rats by poisoning and trapping followed by water boarding to kill them.

With all these above noted negative marking on their trait, rats pose potential threat to human health and as such remain as menace to human being. Nevertheless, rats are also used in scientific research beneficial to human health. In spite of their menacing characteristic feature of being potential vermin, a segment of people at the Karni Mata Temple in Rajastan, India, worship rats.

Inside India's above rat temple where more than 20,000 of them are worshipped, fed and protected as they scurry between the feet of tourists. Devotees at Karni Mata Temple have even gone to extreme length to protect rats by building netting and grills to keep out predators such as raptors. In Hindu mythology, rats are found serving as carrier of Hindu deity Ganesha.

Apparently assigning rats with the holy duty of serving lord Ganesha as carrier, I now speak of cockroaches as one of the vermin of spreading diseases. Cockroaches are defined as "nocturnal voracious dark-brown insect and pests of genus Blatta or periplaneta." It sounds ridiculous to live with pests and insects of above definition like rats and cockroaches. If the living is the terminology, which is reserved for human being only, then rest of the species in this world, survive only in the struggle for existence in the process of natural selection.

Cockroaches, in fact, have no match with other species as far as their formidable power for survival is concerned in any given hostile situation. Cockroach is a genetically advantaged species, which is believed to have been surviving in the planet Earth with festering growth for more than 10 million years of the Earth's various phases of changes. It is also believed to have survived the great natural catastrophes ever happened in this planet when most of other species' suffered mass extinction.

There is hardly any household in the tropical third-world countries, which is free from the scourge caused by cockroaches. Appearing from the holes in-group they live in, their presence is much menacing and is felt in disgust in every household. They hardly die if they are not trampled under the feet by extra force. With a body half mutilated, they run like wonder robotic man featured in Arnold Schawazncggar's thriller movie Terminator, who can re-generate the different limbs of the body being apparently torn into pieces by enemy attack.

A robotic man's self re-generative capability is still an object of imagination in science fiction yet to find place in reality. But cockroaches' self repairing capability is in place in reality and praise worthy. I wonder, if scientists are researching with the particular gene of cockroach responsible for such wonderful capability for re-generation other than being totally terminated in danger. Scientists may conduct a research to identify and modify that particular gene of cockroach with compatibility to implant it in human genetic system to enable human being to acquire such magical strength of healing toward avoiding possible instant termination in case of accident.

Outcome of such research and its materialization is of course, not free from enormous possible hazards that human race may face in the end. Notwithstanding the fact that cockroaches have the great capability, which humans are still lacking to acquire, they are subject to constant attack by humans as because they are not environment friendly and pose a great threat to human health and men's survival.

Metaphorically, humans constantly engaged in conspiracy and intrigue is often dubbed rats. In colonial era, a British politician of strong apartheid psyche once said "Indians breed like rats." Fallen Libyan dictator Col. Muammar Gaddafi also termed his rivals as rats. With the help of flying monsters of NATO, heavily armed Gaddafi's rats pushed Gaddafi into holes where he fought back from, in a losing battle and ultimately embraced martyrdom and buried in an un-marked grave in the hollowness of remote desert. Can one imagine how forceful and dangerous, an army of rats and cockroaches could become, while in-group with strong alien support?

Like some segments of people, with magic lamps in hand, risisng from the lower tier of society reach the upper tier with ill-gotten wealth and affluence, rats and cockroaches who; wallowing over the wet and marshy floor of shanty houses, often travel and ascend the shinny floors of buildings of towering height of megacity to find their new homes to live with more comforts with relatively affluent people in the society.

Despite their natural impulses drive them to make their way to the world of affluence; rats, cockroaches and other pests remain always-unwelcome guests to humans living in affluence. Humans have developed many devices to annihilate them at sight like shooting at sight in curfew.

But they are hard nut to crack. High-powered pesticide, which causes dangerous side effect to human nervous system, sometime fails to destroy cockroaches for their resistance power they develop fast over the time. So contrary to microbiologists' observation that life expectancy of a particular species is 100,000 years; rats and other pests will continue to survive with human being to such length while cockroaches will take extra miles and survive another 10 million years without any metamorphosis; long time after the human race is extinct from the planet Earth.


The writer is a former civil servant

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