Storytime: The Case of Me vs. Ants

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nida chowdhry, author, writer, pakistani, american, muslim, storytime, silly, stories, bugs, austin, new york, apartment living

Like a good broke oldest desi daughter who graduated during the 2009 recession is apt to do, I lived with my parents until I got married and subsequently moved in with my partner, which is how I found myself in Austin, Texas in 2012.

And in Austin, in that cute furnished one bedroom downtown apartment that cost $1100 a month to rent and where we had little to no income tax and I lived a short drive from Homeslice Pizza, the roaches found me. They didn’t find me at first. They waited. And they didn’t find me en masse. They sent these little huge scout soldier roaches wearing backpacks that would run across the room on a mission to find a better land for their friends. (I could hear them shouting commands.) They instead found screaming giants and a vacuum hose, and soon, very effective roach deterring pods ordered on amazon and carefully placed in under cabinet areas. And that was that.

There were no bugs in New York the winter of that following year. Because polar vortex. There was instead a lone, foolish Californian slurping through feet of snow in a fall jacket. If you zoom out, she was indeed a bug.

A few years later, LA called, I thought permanently but what do I know? (I know nothing.) The first month in K-town, we went out of town for a weekend and came back to find our cat urgently delivering a message. Look! He said. Look at this thick line of ants marching from my food bowl all the way to the bathroom and back! Look at this line of ants that’s 5 ants wide by 5 million ants long! I am so concerned and alarmed! And thus began my war with the ants. For months, it was me vs. the cracks in the walls, me and Lysol vs. the 4 or 5 scout ants that bravely crawled out in search of a better warmer place to live. And then I would attack with the sealant. I sealed the mirrors and floorboards, cabinets and faucets in the bathroom. It was quiet for a while, and then they came out the other side, in our office, those sneaky b*tches. So I sealed them up in their own temple of doom and I presume they live inside that wall to this day.

New Jersey was a mess. I have a habit of finding a goldmine of an apartment with an amazing price tag that any normal person would look at and say: this is a dumpster fire in a post-apocalyptic world. And I’m like… this has potential. The previous tenants were five male roommates who had never once cleaned the apartment in the entire year they lived there, along with their roach and presumably mouse sub-letters. It took me, a paid for cleaning crew, and two exterminations, and all that elbow grease probably means we perfected the apartment for the ever increasing gentrification in Jersey City.

And LA called again, she said come back losers and so we did. And as the months got warmer, the wasps started building their nests all along the side of our home. I watched them carry bits of dirt back and forth, back and forth all day long until they had formed a hive, here, there, everywhere. I googled humane ways to murder wasps with little to no success. Meanwhile the mosquitos attacked from every corner. I simply ran around in circles screaming until winter took them all.

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