When I was ten, I really thought that spiders are the noblest creatures in the world. They are the most productive and tactical. They don’t fuck around like we do. They influenced me the most when I was taught the lesson of King Arthur in our English class. Our teacher was so interactive back in the fourth grade, she literally tried to enact the spider not giving up spinning its web. Idolizing insects was never my fetish and I’m not at all enthusiastic about them but yes, spiders were my first inspiration. That was 8 years ago. It was in the seventh grade that shit got real.

We had moved from the suburbs to a rural area and it was our second month in our new house. I was completely enjoying my stay, and the summer was letting the beauty of the place flourish. There was a small forest and a vast farmland surrounded it. Then the vegetation vanished gradually and scattered as it approached the highway. Our home lay on the other side of the highway. Back then, there weren’t too many houses in the neighborhood. I remember that if you stood on the roof and looked around, you could count all the houses in an 800m radius. Even mom let me cycle around the house on my own because I had no friends nearby and she didn’t want me to go dull.

Okay, I wouldn’t say that I was stupid back then but the kid phase of our lives, the way I see it, is when we were complete shitheads. Curiosity killed the cat, I understood this line very well after what happened that summer. I was out cycling happily, like a darn Disney princess (no kidding).  It was on the road pretty close to the forest. Now, the instructions were quite clear. You don’t screw around in the forest. But, I watched Harry Potter. I knew Voldemort was out there but Centaur would come to save me anyway. I leaned my cycle to a tree and went in. It was a shady place and the sunlight struggled only to hint at a few places. Betel nuts were lying on the forest floor and I got busy gathering them. I did find small bones but it didn’t bother me much because Mom had told me that men came for camping here and I had seen one of the parties the other day having mutton cooked inside the forest. I spent an hour there until I heard the leaves shaking behind me. As a matter of fact, my protocols in such a situation are to run. I’m not as skeptical as the guys in the movies, I don’t wait for danger to show its face. Call me a coward but I ran just because of the sound. However, it was the right choice because when I looked behind me, there was a wolf growling and chasing me. That day, I left my cycle at the forest and returned home safely.

The wolf episode bothered me for a while, but I only ruled out the forest from my map. When the rains showered, the farmland was flooded and even the roads were covered with a one foot deep water from the nearby river. Like the brat I was, I would catch the rogue fishes in a jar. Once, I even caught a baby tortoise and I was so happy to have it. When the heavy showers stopped, my mother asked me to let the guests go and I had to do it. Even after the roads were clear, the farms remained the way they were for a while. Frogs would jump up to our verandah and in the evenings the garage was filled with a very annoying noise of toads croaking. During the festivals in October, I would be alone at home in the morning. It was during then that I had to take precautions about dustbins. I opened the bin and found a snake inside it. Although I called Dad immediately and some people nearby helped us to get it out of the bins and let it away in the far away fields, I was shit scared because I had no demography statistics of the snakes there.

It took me as long as December to realize that our house was in complete wilderness and I had to be very careful, even before handling the door knob. It was probably the day before Christmas. Nothing special, nothing too intensifying about this story. I was closing the door and out came a huge snarky spider from the knob. It was as big as my palm and as slim as an 8 fold paper. It ran down my hand, dropped to the floor and scurried away. That’s all it did. For three days, I suffered severe itching in my hand and on the fourth morning, I had swells on my hand. I had to take three injections and medicines and my hand went back to normal in a month. But the fear had already seeped in and spiders weren’t inspiration anymore.

I feared every animal then but I gained control over it. I know the wolf and the snake episode are terrifying but it was the eight legged freak that haunted me more. May be it was the research on the internet that had scared the crap out of me and I hate anything that has more than eight legs.

I was in the eighth grade and it was a rainy night. My grandparents had come over. By then, I had developed arachnophobia and I was quite clear with what my reaction would be if I saw anything with many digits. My grandmother screamed at midnight and I turned on the lights. It was some sort of centipede and it had bit her ear, it burned to a swell in a few minutes. Dad killed the little thing. It was fast because of the 30 legs on it. But the dictionary did the trick. He kept the book on the table beside my bed. It was 2 in the morning when I felt thirsty and woke up. I felt it on my face, eight legs. I knew that was that. My fear. It was as big as my childhood terror and I shook my head violently until it fell off and I killed it with the same thick dictionary. Luckily, I didn’t get the infection this time.

I’m not a murderous wretch. I don’t have anything to do with them but I will defend myself from what I fear if they threaten me. From that day on and till today, I sleep with a thick book by my side and nothing gives me a better sense of security than that.

Sam

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