When I was small, it was my brother who took on that role.
Delhi, like the rest of India, was not a stranger to insects, rats, spiders, lizards and other creepy-crawlies. And where I grew up, a flat in a government colony in Minto Road, New Delhi, there was no dearth of such creatures.
Often I would find roaches invading my study table. Or spiders in my cupboard. There was once a lizard floating in my bath water. No matter how hard my mom tried to keep her home clean, there was always an alien lurking somewhere to invade her space. My brother, who for some reason found such creatures rather fascinating, was the designated bug buster. Broom in hand, he would gleefully chase the offending creature, driving it away. I, being petrified of it, would stand on the tallest structure in the room, a bed, a chair or the table and try to direct him to his prey. " There, there, behind the T.V., strike, whack, swat..." Or, "There it is, climbing the curtains, kill it, kill it". Fear turns the best of us into killers. My brother, who was not a killer, would hold the creature in his hands, (eeewwww) and release it outside. That got him another round of blood curdling screams. " Why did you not destroy that damn thing? Now it will come back again."
For all his faults, (he was a weak wimp after all) he took his role as the dragon slayer rather seriously. His primary job was to defend his little sister and he never forgot to inspect the bathroom before her bath or the bedroom before her bedtime. He kept an hawks eye under the sofa, behind the curtains, inside the shoe rack and all other such vulnerable places. He spoiled me to such an extent that I'd often wonder how I'd ever cope without him in my life. Being a brave girl of the New World, I could fight my battle against any two-legged beast and win, but who would chase away the anthropods and the reptiles?
So, when I decided to get married, one of the first questions I asked my husband was " Are you scared of cockroaches or lizards?" If he thought I was mad, he never let me know.
Over the years, my husband has protected the women in his life, his wife and his two daughters, countless number of times. He saved us from those big brown cockroaches with beady eyes and long tailed lizards with clawed feet. He saved us from smelly rats and ugly spiders. Over the years, he has been able to gauge the seriousness of the threat by just listening to our screams. He now knows whether to pick up a rolled up newspaper or a long handled broom just by hearing how much stress we put on our vowels when we say "Aaaaahhh" Choosing the right weapon is half the battle won.
So my house, thanks to my husband and my pest control agency is normally alien free. The problem arises when he travels. Like now. There is a big, revolting, lizard on my kitchen wall and I do not know what to do. I gave my kids bread for breakfast, I asked my mother in law to make the morning cup of tea and I'm here now, in front of the computer blogging, when I should be thinking of lunch.
The fire breathing, broom weilding Dragon Slayer is quite appropriately in China. And I'm missing him terribly.