By Dipika Kohli
Northwest Asian Weekly
“That was what I was most worried about when we got here,” Bicycle (yes, that is his name) confessed tonight, up on the terrace. “Every time you go to an insectarium, you know, there are those huge ones, those really, really giant bugs—and then you look to see where they’re from, and ALL the scary-looking ones have signs that say, ‘Indonesia,’ or ‘Thailand.’ It’s like it’s always Southeast Asia.”
“You were worried about bugs?”
“I guess in Seattle that was the thing we never had to worry about, huh. ‘member?”
We are on this topic because we’ve just been visited, four flights up, sitting out on the open-air terrace, a giant―what? “I don’t know.”
“What IS that… um.”
We are not quite sure how to receive this thing, which is of a form and variety both of us are completely unfamiliar with. This thing—it’s like a cross between a cockroach and a bat. It looks like it eats rats.
Naturally, we will ignore it. This is the agreement that no one has to state any terms of; it’s just there, like the bug is just there, hanging between us with its own form and logic, its own primitive thirst for basic survival and possibly, if we could know it better, its own form of ennui. You just don’t know, right? If inanimate objects can have consciousness, then surely—“Yeah,” Bicycle says, resuming our earlier conversation, “So in the book, this is about a social scientist…and he translates something to me from its native Japanese.”—I mean, he’s really well-read, but it’s just… it’s just obnoxious, you know?”
My eyes are trained on the bug, who has remained transfixed. It seems calm. That’s weird, since it had just shown up groping about as though it had been in a terrific jam of bugs and cacti, and had escaped, unscathed, a miracle!, and dizzyingly took the giant leap and zipped itself up not one, not two, not three, but yes, the said FOUR flights of stairs, and smashed into the ceiling here, or floundered in the rails of the railing between our space and the airy empty where only flying things can venture. Then it had rammed itself into the white tile of the far wall, and somehow, come to rest there.
Everything is grand, but… there’s this dude hanging out here. From the corner of my eye, I note Bicycle’s pose is also fixed pointedly on the guest.
Now that the thing is still, I get a better look. It’s sizable. Maybe the size of a human palm? It’s got… antennae, and lots of legs, and wings that are shaped like little kites, the box kites like you see in old films that are supposed to make you feel nostalgic and like the world was way better when people flew kites, but no, this bug, no, it’s not got all the structural parts you would need if you were really a box kite and not a—what. I’m not sure. I squint and see he (she?) is brownish-grey, but that might be the yellow-tinge of today’s choice of lighting.
Bicycle points out accurately that if the bug were more cockroach-looking, we would have moved inside long ago. We move pretty quickly, switching off the lights, letting the bug linger. A philosophical reverie, perhaps, you just never know. The miracle of existence! All the multiplicity of forms of being!, how intriguing—with our various styles, shapes and kinds. (end)