96 hours… That is how long he had been annoying me. Now,,, I say 96 hours rather than four days because the former is more grandiose and I am sure you won’t mind a hyperbole or two as I recount my tale of frustration and rage. It is not that I am intolerant in general, but someone annoying me for 96 hours sure gets my goat! He caught me unawares. The neighbour’s kid had banged on the door and I had opened it and chatted with his mother for exactly 2 minutes and 17 seconds when he zipped past my right ear, entering my kingdom uninvited. Exclaiming in annoyance at that intrusion would have been misconstrued, for, right at that moment, the toddler had toddled in too. Also, showing annoyance at a mere housefly violating the aerospace of your domain may sound a tad too pretentious. Back home, the multiple entries and exits of houseflies are hardly considered worthy of mention, leave alone a bloggable matter! Houseflies are a dime a dozen, so to speak… They just frisk, frolic and gambol in the air around you and you turn a blind eye or make half hearted attempts at swatting them. Of course, sometimes these little buggers swarm around the place like in a sci-fi movie, trying to take over the Earth… I remember how Mom used weapons of mass destruction against them… first, the flat plastic thingy to swat them… then, a hetrogenous combo of herbs and home remedies …and when they fail, the insecticide spray with Flit spilling out as she ran after them spraying the pesky rascals and saturating the air with the deadly contents of her spray-gun! She was overjoyed the day Baygon came out with a sachet of powdered arsenal that would lure the pesky punks by the dozens and leave them reeling and buzzing and eventually giving up their arthropod ghosts! My own aversion for them dates back to my childhood. Dad once took us to an Ashram in Kanjangad. He decided that we would partake of the community lunch offered there. That was quite a traumatic experience because thousands of flies swarmed around the plantain leaves. We had to keep sweeping the air right above the leaf while trying to stuff morsels into the mouth and not allowing any errant fly that zoomed into the mouth chasing the morsel a la Harry Potter after the snitch! Now you know the Freudian angle to my getting irked by the sheer effrontery of this intrusive trespasser. I tried swatting him down and was as inept as Srisanth the batsman, taking a swipe at the Australian bowlers! He dodged me, probably sniggering at me in his typical low frequency buzz… I changed tactics and ignored him… not an easy task for someone who can fly off the handle ( pardon the pun ) when something crash-lands deliberately on her arm or does a samba or salsa around her nose. Doggedly, I hunted out the Pif Paf spray and spent the rest of the day stalking the little rapscallion. I would silently edge near him and SPRRRAAAY… and he would at the nick of the moment, take off- probably smirking at me… After a dozen futile guerilla attacks, I gave up and decided to ignore him again… a tactic I used to do with my twins whenever they were annoying… Well, I found that child psychology doesn’t work on insects as he continued to taunt me. Come Friday, I demanded action from the lord of the manor to do something about the pest. And, the chivalric gent came to the rescue of his damsel in distress and therein started fresh clashes … of wills. I enjoyed the different phases of the battle of Man against insect…the different faces of the man who got outdone by a mere insect…and learnt new theories in the science of insect annihilation! It was discovered that the Pif Paf nozzle was not designed to converge on a sitting target… so, we got new arsenal…Baygon with Two-way Targetting Nozzle… It was fun to watch the hide and seek game between the husband and the little blighter…( He hadn’t played with the twins so much in their childhood!) By sunset, the battle was suspended. We had to go out for dinner and by the time we returned, there was no sign of the brute…it probably had settled down for the night…may be planning out fresh strategies to annoy us the next day. Saturday happened to be off for the man of the house, who needed help with some typing. Yours truly who can look and peck faster than him, who looks… searches…locates… and p-e-c-k-s, agreed to help. Now the woman in me likes to strike a bargain whenever possible and this was too good an opportunity to miss. So I used the ‘You scratch my back, I scratch yours’ tactic… I agreed to peck away at the keyboard in return for a small favour: “KILL THE FLY!” While I ‘clickety- clicked’ away at the technical documentation, a battle royale was being waged in the background. Well… Operation Extermination of a Single Housefly was doomed from the word GO. For one thing, the scalawag was too devious for normal (?) human intelligence. Every human move was anticipated and every spray and swipe parried with a deftness that amazed… One even started wondering if this was a real insect or some Chinese or…NASA…or alien….weapon being lab tested on poor, unsuspecting human beings! (Dan Brown is sure good at brainwashing!) The imp was indestructible! Otherwise, how do you explain a fly settling on the ceiling of your room and laughing derisively at you as you try to spray at it and get drenched in the shower of insecticide? Sunday dawned… Husband had selective hearing when it was suggested that he stay home and hunt down the single fly that continued to wade in our ointment. He buzzed away to work. Left to my own devises, I tried hitting it with a wet towel… a rolled up newspaper ( it didn’t fall for even the Tabloid with Paris Hilton’s pictures!) …and my nonstick spatula ( improvised fly swatter…) and ended up in tears of frustration. By <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-comffice:smarttags" /><st1:time Minute="0" Hour="12">noon</st1:time> husband came home and I threatened him with leftovers for the rest of his life, if he did not do something about the blasted fly. It had taken on an evil persona now, creating a rift between the husband and wife who had never so much as fought seriously with each other for a good quarter of a century! New techniques were tried… Decoy No. 1. A newspaper was spread on the kitchen counter and ‘mixed fruit’ juice, milk and labaan generously spilt on it. Waiting then started… Like Jim Corbett waiting for the man eaters of Kumaon, my better half waited with baited breath… a can of Piff Paff in one hand and my spatula in the other. Little did we know that the little devil was too smart to fall for this pathetic attempt at hunting him down. He zoomed into our radar… banked precariously, wondering whether to land on the sweet smelling cocktail that had started to drip down the kitchen platform…and decided instead to look at his assailant who looked like a model posing for Rodin or Henry Moore…Probably this was rib-tickling ( I know… I know… insects don’t have ribs… I am being metaphorical…) and it chortled as it hurtled against the wire mesh, stunning itself for a nanosecond. Before we could react and send a missile along its trajectory, it zoomed out of our sight. Decoy No. 2. Solids have better eye appeal than liquids, decided the in-house scientist and scooped out some leftovers ( I am generally well stocked…with chronologically labeled stuff preserved in my refrigerator..) onto a plate. I was about to demur at the La Opala plate selected for the purpose but the glint in the better half’s eyes made me hold my tongue. The sight and aroma ( I am a good cook, leftovers notwithstanding!) of my matter paneer and pungent beetroot chutney in the backdrop of the pristine white of the plate was too much for the greedy guts and before we could say Musca Domestica, he was hovering around as though waiting for an invitation… I could see him dally between his gluttony and his sense of self preservation… ultimately gluttony won over caution ( as it usually does) and he settled down to enjoy the fare under him! SWAT! Swat… swat…swat… swat… ( to make sure he’s dead) we went and the next minute I had half a dozen pieces of the La Oplala plate and splotches of curry and chutney all around… As we looked for the dead remains of the annoying arthropod, we heard a familiar buzz above our heads… This time there was no mistake. There reflected devilry in its compound eye… and its buzz definitely had a derisive hoot to it! I fixed an accusing eye at the ‘would –have- been exterminator’ who shrugged eloquently and left the scenario leaving me to wipe the goo and stickiness off my kitchen… I vowed on every piece of my shattered La Opala plate that I shall have revenge… This morning he was there to greet me while I made coffee. As I sipped my morning coffee, I decided I had to take matters into my hand and get the better of him. 96 hours of torture was too much! First I needed a cool head… so I decided to get the spleen out of my system. A little pranayama and a little basic warm up exercises filled me with the determination to succeed. Then I opened my cache… logged in and started selecting weapons… I googled for all possible info about the pestilential heckler. As I read pages and pages about the physiological and psychological information on houseflies ( Musca Domestica ) and their habits, the frontal lobes began to function… Ah…ha! I thought. Why didn’t I think of this before? I should have… Then I proceeded with my game plan. Enter Decoy No.3. I opened the door and waited for a couple of minutes and hit the jackpot. In she zoomed, slightly larger than him… and with an intimidating personality. Had she been flying herself dizzy in search of him while he was enjoying a vacation in my house for 90 odd hours? She looked like a fussy mom or a possessive wife as she made a beeline for him… Obviously, it was reunion time… They cavorted together… buzzing to each other… probably he was regaling her with his heroic tales of vanquishing a pair of homo sapiens… or he was wooing her with a permanent castle where she would be enthroned the queen…I don’t know… he seemed to drone on.. buzzing around her while I gritted my teeth. ‘Patience,’ I told myself and stalked them like Jack the Ripper. My waiting paid. Exactly 2 hours and 6 minutes after her entry I saw them huddled together on my bedroom window. ‘En Garde!’ I whispered to myself and used the brand new Pif Paf on them on the most unguarded moment of their lives. They stood no chance, given the circumstances… As the nonstop spray did them in, I recalled words of Emily Dickenson… But in my Machiavellian makeover, I spoofed her words and sang: “ I heard the flies buzz… before they died, The stillness in the room Was the stillness in the air, Between the gates of Heaven!” I scooped them out with a Reader’s Digest Business Reply Mail card and threw them out of the window. I decided to write my eulogy for the valiant warrior and started my blog… there is silence inside the room now… Do I miss the buzz? Nah! But…I am not sorry I had to kill for peace… The end, after all, justifies the means!