Roach motel — Malaysian style

November.7. 2012

On a recent trip to Malaysia, I happened to come upon an interesting package in one of the hardware stores I love to frequent in Sibu, a package featuring a drawing of one of my favorite animals – roaches.

Turned out it was a roach trap or as we call them here in the US, roach motels.

I bought one without hesitation and tested it that same day. Within a day, I was able to snag a victim, not a roach but a lizard.

The only problem was that of disposing of the catch.

You see, it was still very much alive.

I thought of drowning it, but the thought of having to clean the trap after that put me off the idea. So I decided to flush it down the toilet.

Great idea, but not so easily done. I emptied the lizard into the bowl but the nimble thing was able to clamber up from the water, and before you can say alamak, it was almost out of the bowl.

I pulled the lever immediately, but surprisingly the flood of water did little to dislodge it.

I saw a tin can nearby filled with rainwater (my mother loves to catch rainwater in all kinds of containers, a habit she acquired when she lived in the village and clean water was hard to come by — all the streams in the area had reddish water.) and managed to send the poor creature back down to the water. I pulled the lever again, and mission accomplished.

Back in Texas, I was anxious to give the contraption a test run.

On the very first night, sweet success! I managed to bag a roach, not one of those famous Texas-sized roaches, but still one of respectable dimensions.


A closer look

A closer look

But then came the same problem, how do you dispose of it?

I knew the flushing trick was not likely to work, plus I didn’t have access to my mother’s rainwater.

Over the years, I have developed a rather fine technique of using plastic bags to catch cockroaches (you use it like a glove and when you manage to catch one, you tie it up in the plastic bag and throw it away.) so I took a plastic bag and managed to coax the unsuspecting roach into the plastic bag. Another mission accomplished.

But after all that, I decided it was just too much effort to get one cockroach, so I gave up on the device and now it lies underneath my kitchen sink.

These days, I use my sister’s trick, which is to make a concoction of boric acid and honey and leave them in strategic places in the house. It seems to be working; just the other day, I saw a dead cockroach lying on the kitchen floor.

But why am I so obsessed with this particular one of God’s creatures?

The answer may lie in what my mother told me.

Apparently, I was born severely jaundiced. As luck would have it, my grandmother had come to Kanowit for the confinement period.

And as luck would have it, she had the perfect remedy for jaundice, which was to catch a cockroach, extract its entrails (is there such a thing?) and smear it on the jaundiced baby’s lips.

It must have worked because I got over my jaundice, but the trauma of that incident must have left a lasting impression on my young mind, because these days, nothing terrifies me more than the sight of these creepy crawlies.

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