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You are my pest-friend,
As you may not know,
And I deem it my pleasure and privilege
To write this panegyric of you.
Mostly chocolate brown in complexion;
And very rarely, if ever, you produce a freakish white.
In your worldwide family,
I don’t think incest is a taboo.
I am no zoologist, neither are you; but pray tell me:
How do you, in your global community, tell a ‘he’ from a ‘she’?!
Your species is indeed ubiquitous:
You can be found in the North, East, West and South.
But it is indeed a pity that you are never there in the NEWS.
When I was in Africa,
I happened to live with your distant cousins,
Very small in size, but very large in number—
With the result that the nuisance value
Was much the same!
You make hardly any distinction
Between fresh and rotten food,
Kitchen and commode, bedroom and bathroom,
And the newest skyscraper and the oldest mansion.
You can also be found on a moving train, on a speeding bus,
Or a flying plane or on board a cruising ship.
No ID proof, no tickets, no Visa!
You can scare any human, male or female, young or old.
You take, of course, a special delight
In frightening women and children:
Some of them scream
And go hysterical at the sight of you or just faint!
Our late-lamented Abdul Kalam,
Was mortally scared of you;
Once, when he was in office,
You made him, if you remember,
Rush out of his suite, ill-clad,
Forgetting his position and protocol!
He was not at all afraid
Of any missiles, though!
You scare us all most when you flutter your wings
Or when you take people unawares,
Showing up in unexpected and unwanted places
And at ungodly hours!
To give the devil its due,
Children often start learning
Their zoology at your expense.
You are etherized or dissected in their laboratory
You are a martyr, in that sense,
To the cause of education—
Like your good friend, Frog.
Now and then you happen to help me, too,
An ESL teacher, to get a feel for the language:
Once, for instance, I was looking up the dictionary
For the meaning of ‘obnoxious.’
I couldn’t quite understand the meaning given;
But just then, as a godsend, you appeared;
And now I understood what the word meant!
Similarly, you readily help me, in the English classroom,
To illustrate the meanings of words—like ‘hysteria,’ ‘phobia,’
‘Scare,’ ‘dare,’ ‘disgusting,’ etc.
Such a help are you to us, teachers.
And perhaps you don’t know that
I have, in fact, half a mind to recommend you
For some prestigious Teacher Award in India.
(For, here in India, you are an Indian by birth or domicile!)
If you have survived against odds,
You should only thank Darwin,
Who is always your support
And source of inspiration.
For you, paradoxically,
Life is long and art is short.
You may, for all I know, outlive my verse:
So long as the universe exists,
Will you continue to exist!
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