MALAYSIA Tanah Tumpah Darahku



10 APRIL 2024

Friday, December 31, 2021

Much ado about flies… and cicak


When I was a little girl, my dad used to give me and my brother some chores around the house to keep us busy.

“Make yourself useful to the family,” he often reminded us.

Of course, at a young age, I did not understand what it meant. I took it to mean that in order to enjoy the benefits of having a roof over my head, food on my plate and the occasional gifts I received, I had to play my part in contributing something back to the family. And so I did.

I would sweep the house, fold the clothes, prepare the table for meals and do other chores that my six-year-old self was able to do. To be honest, I wasn’t really excited about carrying out the chores but being recognised and appreciated for the tasks assigned to me made me feel special.

“The garden looks really nice, thank you for sweeping the dry leaves.”

“I like the way you folded the socks!”

“You’ve been a great help around the house.”

With every acknowledgement I received, I craved for more. They made me feel loved.

New chore, new game

And then one day, my dad called me and my brother to the living room and gave us a new chore.

“Your mother has been complaining that there are too many houseflies around due to the weather. We need your help to get rid of them.”


“I want you to hunt them and then kill them.”

I was gobsmacked. Is this for real, I thought?

“Wear gloves and then swat the flies with a rolled-up newspaper. When you kill them, pick up their smashed body and place them into a plastic bag. Whoever manages to kill the most flies by dinner time will be the winner.”

“Whoa! Cool!” exclaimed my brother as if he was going to hunt with a crossbow. Boys, urgh.

My dad then turned to me, curious as to why I was still at the same spot especially since he knew I was the competitive middle child in the family.

“Listen,” he said. “Killing house flies is a fun activity. It encompasses all essential hunting skills. You can spot-and-stalk or still-hunt. You can decoy flies or hunt over bait piles. Trust me, you can do this.”

I nodded. I was reluctant but I knew I had to do it. After all, I cannot allow my brother to enjoy all the glory and the ‘well done’ recognitions. I must be the hero who saved my home from the flies, not my brother.

The hunting season

I grabbed the thickest newspaper I could find and rolled it up firmly. I took a deep breath, slowly exhaled and released before I began tracking down the flies.

A few seconds later, a housefly showed itself. I outstretched my hands and positioned my rolled newspaper above its tiny body.


Darn it. I missed it. It was aggravating to waste a perfectly good smack. But in my moments of despair, I heard my dad from a distance, “There you go, that sounded like a good smack!”

“Thank you,” I responded almost automatically.

For the next one hour, I made sure I smacked the table, chair, cabinet and floor at least once every five minutes, just so that my dad could hear the sound and be pleased.

A couple of hours into the ‘hunting’, my brother came to me, parading his plastic bag filled with dead flies. My jaw dropped.

“I have 19. How much have you got?” he asked with a smug face.

“I have so much that I even lost count!” I replied.

My brother laughed. He knew right away I was lying - after all, one typically starts losing count after, say, 50 kills. Also, in a hunting competition such as this, keeping accurate records was essential.

I was trapped. I desperately needed to fill my plastic bag with those damn flies.

Upping the game

A good hunter should have a game plan, I thought. So, I took down the lid covering our trash bin; left the back door open, and I poured some syrup on the table. I tried to trap the flies with every trick I could think of.

Although my plan had great potential at the beginning and the bait I set managed to lure the flies, unfortunately, my frantic smacking left them stunned and possibly too traumatised to ever come over again. And just like that, they disappeared. I was doomed.

And then I saw it.

A tiny black pellet with a white tip at one end. It was a common house gecko’s poop (better known as ‘taik cicak’ among Malaysians). I observed it long and hard, realising that it resembled the smashed flies inside my brother’s plastic bag.

Eureka! I had a winning plan.

I started walking around the house, focusing on damp and dark locations, looking out for 'taik cicak'. I would pick them up, remove the white tip and throw them into my plastic bag.

Occasionally I would accidentally pick up wet poop which would smudge all over my glove, leaving a bad stench, but hey, I was going to beat my brother and earn my dad's praises and that was all that mattered to me.

Half an hour before dinner time, dad called both my brother and me, and asked for our fly count to determine the winner.

“32!” my brother declared.

I smiled. “I caught 49,” I said.

My brother protested and demanded that I show my ‘catch’, only to be fooled by the 'taik cicak' I presented.

“Well done!” said my dad with a big smile. "Thanks to the both of you, we can have our dinner in peace without the annoying flies."

I was pleased. I may not have deserved my dad’s recognition, but it still made me feel so happy and loved.

The value of recognition

Acknowledgement, recognition, praise - as human beings, we almost all need that, one way or another.

Of course, there are some of us who are satisfied contemplating a brave or noble or selfless act without the need to be acknowledged. Our conscience is the only reward we need for doing good deeds.

For most of us, that is not the case. We need something more than our conscience. We enjoy it when our good deeds are acknowledged, be it a pat on the shoulder, praise or a simple thank you.

And then there's who put in the effort to ensure their good deeds receive the credits – like those who take selfies during charity activities in order to promote themselves all over social media. I bet you have a friend who does just that.

And how can we forget those who work hard to make sure they get recognition although they may not be deserving of it – like those who pose for the media as volunteers in locations hit by natural disaster; or those who print their faces and their names on aid packages paid for by the taxpayers.

Everyone wants to feel loved. To acknowledge and praise are just ways to reassure people that they are loved. Even when people perform selfish acts out of self-interest, surely their intention of wanting to be loved and appreciated can be understood, no?

Well, even if they do not deserve love, they surely do not deserve hate, do they?

At the end of the day, no one should be hated for wanting to be loved a little more.  - Mkini

FA ABDUL is a passionate storyteller, a media trainer, an aspiring playwright, a director, a struggling producer, a photographer, an expert Facebooker, a lazy blogger, a part-time queen and a full-time vainpot.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of MMKtT.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.