That I sat to write this article after mercilessly crushing a cockroach that egregiously rushed into my bath may qualify me as a hypocrite, but I am least bothered. Because I believe, hypocrisy is the tribute vice pays to virtue. So I thought it was better to write and ease my conscience than carry the burden of the murder forever. Now I don’t want to be the drunkard who advises his children that alcohol is bad both for health and wealth. I genuinely regret killing it.
Perhaps I’d try to console myself by saying that it was my reflex and no the criminal in me that did the act of killing. But I can’t forgive myself for forgetting that cockroaches are not bad, but it is bad when a cockroach is not in the place where it is meant to be. My Google search says that only 12 out of 4,000 cockroach species identified scientifically qualifies as pests. The rest are precious constituents of the biological system.
They are the insects that do the micro-cleaning for the world. Something that brooms, vacuum cleaners and mops fails to do. Besides this, decomposition of dead matter would be a smelly and inevitably puky episode if not for these little friends.
A more intensive Google search categorizes killing a cockroach no lesser evil than destroying the planet earth like Verminous Skumm. The destruction of cockroaches would in the long run 'play havoc with the nitrogen cycle', writes Srini Kambhampati, professor and chair of the biology department at the University of Texas at Tyler.
Cockroaches release nitrogen into the atmosphere which is very essential for survival of plant life. I could connect that with a recent article I read on how the wild salmons help in survival of Tongass rain forest. The carcass of the salmon left by the wild bears are decomposed by insects, particularly cockroaches, which release nitrogen into the soil that is picked up by trees (remember your class IX biology lesson? Trees and plants cannot absorb nitrogen from the atmosphere directly and require living agents such as cockroaches to do the job for them).
So killing of a cockroach would amount to driving around your fuming car in the neighborhood, adding to the high levels of vehicle exhaust. Now why do I have to make a big deal out of this? Because, climate change talks can no more be closed door talks at cozy luxury hotels, nor can one afford to ignore it as the job of the suited negotiators. One got to do the little one can to add to the lot.
Back in China a whole nation is shrouded by toxic fog. Babies, expecting women and old people are forced to wear masks for weeks and cannot afford to breathe a cubic metre of fresh air as we do now. Beijing Office for Cancer Prevention and Control predicts that health impact from putrid air could be greater than the 2003 SARS epidemic. It does matter; if not here, somewhere else. So what’s gonna be my attitude to a cockroach at the wrong place from now on? Restrict it to the place where it has to be and not kill it.