Massacre in Geylang...and Toa Payoh

With all the renovation and major hacking up of concrete done to J's apartment block, the natural world was feeling the strain. Since their homes were being threatened or even invaded and destroyed, lizards, cockroaches and ants residing in all the secret nooks of the block have had it tough. They have been forced to migrate...and where else, but some to J's apartment. (Just in case you think we are slobs - we've always been conscientious in the hygiene and not-leaving-food-around department, so we've never really had many of such guests in the apartment before.)

However cruel it all is, we decided in the end to resort to a variety of ant, cockroach and even, lizard traps. The lizard traps are the most primitive. They are these little cardboard tunnels where the base is made of a super sticky material, so that when these little houselizards tramp through the tunnel towards that tasty snack - schlick - they are stuck.

The Untimely Death, 19 Aug,morning: Yesterday, we went home to discover one of them lizards caught...but more than that. When we discovered the lizard that night (it must have been caught early in the morning), it was already partially devoured by a whole army of ants, little red ones mixed with a few larger black, super-speedy ants with their slender legs.

The Massacre, 19 Aug, midnight: For some strange reason, the ants must have overcome the sticky tape in order to get to the lizard. Otherwise, the first troop of ants might have sacrificed themselves, and their bodies became a safe path for their comrades to get to the lizard. Shocked at the sight, out came the insecticide spray, and the ant massacre began.

The Cleanup, 20 Aug, morning: Too tired with the killing last night, J left their carcasses on the floor. This morning was the clean-up, and woah, there must have been thousands and thousands of those ants floating in the pail.

The Second Attack, 20 Aug, evening: This evening, home with our groceries, we found another unsuspecting lizard roaming in the kitchen. Well-trained with the insecticide spray already, J knocked him out. But it was a resilient thing - dropping its tail and playing dead, but it was still hanging on.

The POW, 20 Aug, night: Not quite knowing what to do next with the actor-survivor, J trapped it under a jar. Hoping it would perhaps decide to die for real. At the last check at midnight, it was still alive.

Speaking of migration and massacre, Wheyface, her husband and I went to watch Perth: The Geylang Massacre tonight and there was also plenty of both in that movie...literally and figuratively. Harry Lee (a first mate, security guard, taxi-driver then designated driver for Mai, a Vietnamese prostitute) longs to migrate to Perth, that elusive paradise where all his friends have already retired to. Trapped in a life and country where he is unloved, unwanted and emasculated, the movie aches with Harry's longing. He has seen and can see (dream) Perth, but something invisible to him, yet oh so clear and inevitable to the audience, keeps him away.

The movie continues what is by now its own genre of Singaproe films on the island's underdogs and the society's underbelly: Eric Khoo's 12 Storeys and Meepok Man; Kelvin Tong's Eating Air and Royston Tan's 15. Wheyface had wondered why almost half of all films made in the last 10 years in Singapore have this instance yet again of teenage angst and rebellion against the official insistence on order and cleanliness? Probably. But I am glad that this time, Perth also successfully invited the audience's sympathy and empathy for the character's struggles.

Hmm, perhaps we ought to release the lizard after all from its glass trap.


Tym said…
I'm quite ruthless about trapping and killing ants and cockroaches, but the lizards I usually leave well nigh alone, on the argument that they help by eating the other nasty insects. The only time I (accidentally) killed a lizard was when I closed a door and squished it on its way up the doorframe. As you can imagine, the sound of said squishing was not pleasant...

I say release the lizard, but massacre away all the ants and roaches!
wahj said…
I've often wondered myself why so many local films focus on the "dark underbelly" of Singapore. I suppose in a society where (public) cleanliness has been elevated to the status of morality, to be perverse would be to be dirty, in all senses of the word. When 12 Stories came out, I wondered if someone would ever show the banal, mundane world of real Singapore, which presumably lay somewhere between the noir seediness of 12 Stories/Mee Pok Man and the Ikea sponsored multicultural world of Under One Roof. It's probably not going to happen, because it's just not very interesting to watch as a movie.
ampulets said…
After trapping the Lizard King in the jar. I decided to "release" into the rubbish bin. If it breaks, then his freedom regained, and he can go back to his "kingdom". I used to think the same way as tym, about lizards - the domestic helpers to eat up the other nasty ones. But, they have been leaving their shit all over the house. when it dried up, it stained the fall and I have to clean up the aftermath of their dinner. So the massacre will probably continues. In fact, this morning i discovered more dead carcass of more ants and traces of new feces. hmm... - TOHA
ampulets said…
wahj - was thinking about that too...if there're other stories to tell other than death/destruction/crime. i am thinking of all these taiwanese directors who make great films from a seemingly mundane premise...but i guess in taiwan the "mainstream" of society don't have any hangups with "dirty" in the first place. Whereas in Singapore, directors who make 12 Storeys/15/Mee Pok Man etc wear the "street cred/underbelly-club" badge like some kind of trophy....especially since their fathers are/could be billionaire hoteliers! Perth managed to pull it off quite well though - maybe it was the humour and army-talk in the first half of the film.
tscd said…
Ants and cockroaches are horrific. But I miss the house lizards. I used to like to watch them scuttling over the ceiling.
Anonymous said…
word has it that someone will be doing a full length feature, maybe ready next year, judging by past records, it may supply the demand for "the banal, mundane world of real Singapore" kind of film, and hopefully not bore our red hats off.
leave the lizards alone!

i'm terrified of them actually. there was this time (when i was 10), i was opening the letter box and this lizard jumped onto my hand and i had a hard time trying to shake it off.

but i really do feel sorry for them when the dogs play with them, killing them in the process. you can imagine how much i cringe when i see that. worse when i have to clear it. oh well, at least not as traumatising as the bat.
ampulets said…
ru, tcsd - miss and spare houselizards! aiyoh, their poo is so frustrating to clean... ok lah, they are hardest to kill, since they always look at you with those big black liquidy eyes and are generally harmless.

anon - who's it by? pray tell.
Unknown said…
yaaay! house lizards live =) anyway everybody poos.
ampulets said…
No Poo, No kills. i said, the massacre continues....unless, someone here is keen to help me clean my house on a regular basis. Anyway, there are just too many of them. - TOHA
wahj said…
Get a cat: since our cats came into our lives, the lizards and insects have disappeared

... of course, we occasionally find a flattened, dessicated lizard corpse tucked under one of the rugs, presumably left there by the cats after they've done playing with them.
ampulets said…
Yes, TOHA, let's get a cat!!!
Ok, i know your answer :<

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