The incident happened a month ago. When you are at university, no one gives you a list of the top ten most unlikely things to happen to you, where maggots make an entrance at a low seven. I had just returned home from my statistics exam. Being drained, tired and a little lightheaded from the harshness of the sun, all I wanted was a cold shower and my bed, but I gathered in the kitchen with the rest of my flatmates and we chatted about our day. Voices rose and fell as we made audible our frustrations and opinions on that Tuesday afternoon.
At some point, I walked out of the kitchen to talk to another flatmate who was absent from the gathering. After a ten-minute catch-up, I returned to the kitchen.
As I opened the fire door to the kitchen, one of my flatmates shouted, “Watch where you step; there are maggots on the floor.” I was confused at first as thoughts raced through my mind. Maggots, since when, until I saw a white rod wiggling toward the lower kitchen cabinets like a caterpillar. My mouth dropped and my pupils dilated with fear.
“Look! There’s one coming toward you,” my other flatmate said.
“Where?” I squeaked as my eyes darted around the dirty floor littered with bits of food.
“Does anyone know where they came from?” I asked to no one in particular. We were surprised to find maggots in our flat of all places. We had housed daddy long-legs, spiders, ladybirds, houseflies and many other annoying insects because we never closed the windows in the kitchen, but not maggots. Slowly everyone in the room gravitated toward the door, looking around the room and up at the ceiling in case the maggots had developed limbs to walk or wings to fly. We had to find the source of the maggots and contain the situation before it got out of hand.
Before moving toward the rubbish bin, I left the kitchen and went to my room to retrieve a pair of black heavy-duty gloves. I could not risk feeling the slimy squish of a maggot on my exposed fingers. Returning to the kitchen with my gloves fitted on like a plumber, I faced the black bin bag sitting placidly in front of the smelly bin like it was my nemesis. I stooped to pick it up and dropped it almost immediately. Under the bag was a nest of maggots. There must have been about fifteen to twenty of them all fighting to get away like robbers at a crime scene.
“Ahhhhh, maggots!” I screamed and ran out of the kitchen behind two of my flatmates who were just as shocked as I was at the scene.
In the corridor of the flat, I quickly pulled off the gloves and stamped my feet on the ground like a little child throwing a tantrum. I waved my hands in the air and shoke my body. The screaming and commotion brought out our other flatmates. Two of my flatmates ran out of the flat with a spring in their step to the reception desk to report the infraction. While they were gone, the rest of us ventured back into the kitchen hoping that the maggots were gone, but not too far away so that we could kill them.
All eyes were on the floor. Those little wrigglers were fast, some of them had managed to burrow their way under the settees like we had been playing a game of hide and seek. I felt dirty and willed the scenario to be over so that I could stand in the shower for as long as it took to remove the experience from my skin’s memory. Seeing all the maggots sprawling around our kitchen floor reminded me of my first encounter with these crawlers. It was a déjà vu moment which took me back in time, eight years from that day.
I had returned home from secondary school and decided to shower as that day had been quite dusty because of the harmattan season. I wrapped a towel under my armpits and around my body, where I tucked the remaining edge under the towel just above the left side of my bosom. As I stepped into our shared shower room, I saw something moving against the tiled floor. I didn’t think much of it until I saw five others. I was aghast, but also disgusted and bewildered. I fled the shower room which filled me with reproach and went to my parents’ room. I told my mother and she went to see the maggots for herself.
She coolly glanced around the floor and stared at the shower drain for a long time before saying, “They may have come up through the drains or the toilet.”
“What! How is that even possible?” I bellowed a bit too loudly. I didn’t understand, my mind was cloudier than lemonade. I rolled my eyes, annoyed at the whole situation. I would have to postpone my shower till the last maggot was purged. I lifted my arms and sniffed at my armpits, the smell was repulsive. It was a mixture of stale sweat and cucumber dove deodorant. I sucked my teeth and went to my room to put some clothes on. I can’t remember how we eventually got rid of the maggots but we did. I remember after that incident, I could never shower without flip-flops, I was too paranoid. I even checked and rechecked the toilet and shower drain multiple times when I was in there, fearing that one of the maggots would be lurking in the shadows waiting to show itself.
Now standing in our tiny kitchen, one of my worst nightmares was playing out and I was one of the victims. I felt like one of the girls from Pretty Little Liars, who had fallen for one of A’s bad jokes. I walked back out of the kitchen to pick up the gloves and went to the storage room to get the hover. By then, my other flatmates had returned from the reception with deflated hope and new hover bags. We all tiptoed into the kitchen in case some maggots had reached the door and had decided to proceed to the corridor. After I changed the hover bag, I plugged the cable into a socket and started sucking up the maggots that were trying to get away. I was torn between being thrilled and being revolted. I felt like an exterminator who was bringing the life of a pest to an abrupt standstill. Deep down, I knew they would still be alive in the hover bag, writhing about each other like possessed bodies.
Everyone was more alert than normal, wondering if any brush of fabric was a maggot in disguise. The maggots were everywhere, it was unbelievable, under the fridges and inside the settees. How? I honestly cannot fathom it. Seeing them inside the seat reinforced my dislike for the settee near the bin. I never quite liked that seat in the first place as the odour of the bin could be smelt with greater acuity from there. After thirty minutes, we had managed to vacuum up all the maggots or so we thought. Somehow, one or two of them had succeeded in getting to the corridor. They tried to burrow through the blue carpet to no avail. I swarmed on them like a hawk and they disappeared through the trunk of the hover.
The experience still haunts part of me and I think I finally convinced one of my flatmates to stop walking around the kitchen barefooted. Each of us scanned the kitchen floor like search lights from a search house every time we entered the kitchen after that episode. One could never be too sure about what was moving on the floor.
Like I said before, the incident happened a good month ago. Till today, when I empty the bins, part of me silently hopes that I will not encounter any maggots popping out of the bin bag. Students the lesson to learn here is to empty your bins regularly. Don’t wait for it to brim with rubbish before you reluctantly empty the bin. Don’t walk past the bin with blind eyes and shove more garbage into the bin in a bid to see who can add the most waste and get away without emptying it. The truth is, maggots will not be the only visitors next time, but cockroaches, mice, rats and other uninvited guests.