Metropole Magazine

Today's Weather: Abuja NG: Partly Cloudy, Day 360|Night 260

29 Oct Written by  Kimberly Ward

The Creepy-Crawly Enclosure

None of my family were animal lovers, so unlike my friends and neighbours, we never had any dogs or cats or rabbits in the house. Animals stayed in zoos and pets were what other people lived with and we tolerated when we visited them.

I never lived with a thing from another species, except for unwelcome visitors like mice. Once, I saw a mouse scurrying across the carpet in the living room of my London flat, and I screamed, leaping unto the sofa. I hurriedly dialled the landlord’s number. “I thought this house was clean!” I yelped, forgetting that mice were unseen tenants in most houses in London.

That night I slept with the lights on and Tom chased Jerry in my dreams, and in the morning I refused to go to work until the landlord came and installed an electrical mouse repellent in my room. You plug it into the wall socket and it emits a sound only mice can hear, keeping them away from the house forever. I was sceptical; I expected cheese and mousetraps, but until I moved out I never did see another mouse (and I looked hard). The device worked.

So I can confirm that I do not like sharing my living space with non-humans. Now imagine my shock at seeing a scorpion in the bathroom sink of my Abuja home, I froze, starring open-mouthed as the crustacean scurried around the sink-hole, stinger erect.

Now I’m not one of those women who run out of the house at the sight of insects; I fearlessly hunt down spiders and attack cockroaches unprovoked (the mouse was different: it was a mammal not a bug). So I wasn’t scared, but I don’t actually remember how I got rid of the intruder.

I might have blocked out the memory to protect myself from the trauma. But I know I saw a scorpion in my bathroom sink, and my mother almost choked on her orange juice when I mentioned it to her: “I told you Nigeria was dangerous, when are you coming back?” she began her lecture and I rolled my eyes.

Then there are the lizards that visit from time to time, freaking me out with their ability to scurry upside down across the ceiling. Thankfully it’s the colourless babies that gate-crash; the green and yellow adults that nod enthusiastically to themselves remain outside the house. And on certain mornings, a crunch underfoot as I step out of the front door judges me guilty of snail-murder, as dried silvery trails tell the tale of their epic journey across my front yard.

It’s like living in the creepy-crawly enclosure at the zoo, what with lizards, scorpions, ants, spiders, cockroaches, snails, an unlovely orchestra of singing crickets and humming mosquitoes and all manner of flying and scurrying insects in my home with me.

I think it’s time for another dose of Sniper: that dangerously-named, all-powerful bug repellent whose pungent stench can knock a man down. It is a messy, merciless genocide compared to the electrical mouse repellent’s discreet accuracy, but I doubt Nigerian pests would submit to anything less.