When I was a kid, I did not like playing with insects. In fact, I was always looking for ways to torture insects. Raised in the city, I thought all insects were meant to be crushed, sprayed on with Baigon, flushed away, swatted at, and trapped with a sticky sheet of fly paper.
My grandmother even encouraged me to set a trap to lure what we called flying ants away from our light bulb. On humid summer nights, I would fill a shallow aluminum basin with water, which I placed directly under the light bulb. The dancing ripples attracted the winged insects, and when they land on the water, they eventually get stuck there and drown. It was fun to watch.
Once, when I was spending the weekend at my grandmother’s house in Laguna, my father caught a large mariposa. I wanted to keep it, but I didn’t want to touch it as it was common knowledge among schoolchildren that butterfly dust will make one blind.
To keep the mariposa alive, my father put it in a plastic bag and punched small holes in it so that it could breathe. (Do butterflies breathe? How do they do it?) He placed it above my bed so I could admire it before I drifted off to sleep. Did I enjoy watching the beautiful butterfly? No, I didn’t. I couldn’t sleep as I watched it squirm and crawl, looking for a way out. It was pathetic.
I’m a person of simple tastes and wants. All I’ve ever wanted since I was 12 was to have my own room where I can display my notebook collection. When I was 16, I was content to stay in bed and write in my journal. At 22, I thought I needed nothing more than classical music and a bowl of spaghetti.