Author: Lama Rana Jallow | from The Gambia
A spider of the lanky, skinny-legged type – henceforth referred to as “Daddy Longlegs” – seems to have taken residence in our SHU (Segregated House Unit). I’d seen him gallivanting around on quite a few of the numerous visits I’d made to the same.
All these times, however, I see the spider and pay him no further heed than mere interested observation. Well, except for once or twice when I saw him perched against the wall or sitting in the tub. On both of those occasions, I’d blow at the spider – wfhoooo (the “f” is kinda silent) – to see how much he could endure the buccal hurricane without losing his footing. He did relinquish hold of one or two legs, but he never fell or moved in any significant way from his position. He held it down.
Otherwise, Daddy Longlegs went about his business, either oblivious of my presence, or just ignoring me.
On one occasion, while I was running the shower, I observed the very same spider in the corner in the tub, right at the periphery of the showers, struggling to climb out of the tub.
Now, climbing out of the tub, even when dry, could prove a tedious task in itself, what with the inside being so smooth and free of leverages. But the task was made even more difficult by the fact that the tub was now wet and slippery. Daddy Longlegs himself was wet by now, which must have weighed him down and made movement difficult. And, as if that was not enough, he was being continually pelted by some of the shower droplets, so that every time he made a bit of a headway up the climb, he is soon forced back down by the liquid bullets and the slippery surface.
I wouldn’t say I enjoyed the spectacle, but I did observe for a while. In fact, I could say that I was willing the spider to defy the odds and drag himself up and make the climb. But repeated failings soon proved to me that Daddy Longlegs was not equal to the task.
His attempts grew feebler gradually. His legs moved pathetically. I looked at him critically and reckoned, without help, he’d die eventually. The prospect kinda evoked my sympathy.
After sometime, I snapped out of it, and chided myself for letting him suffer so for my amusement, and pitied the poor, helpless thing. I stuck a forefinger out and willed him to cling on. The situation was desperate, but he, being so skinny and wet, was delicate. Grabbing him by two fingers might have inadvertently broken or leg or two, if not outright detached them, or squeezed him whole or choked him, and possibly crushed him to death. The impending irony wasn’t lost on me.
I placed him outside of the tub – flung him from my finger, more like – and wished him well, my assumption being that he’d be on his way soon enough, as soon as he was dry and recovered well enough from his weakness by the wetness.
On a later visit to the SHU to dispose off another instalment of some digestive sewage, I saw the same Daddy Longlegs right where he appeared to have landed when I helped him out of the tub. He was not moving. I was struck by a sudden sense of dread. Was he dead? If so, could it be my fault?
It was a rethorical question, for my conscience immediately reproached me for even contemplating it. Of course it would be my fault. I watched him as he struggled to breath and leave the tub, and didn’t treat the situation with the emergency it evinced. I could’ve turned the shower off as soon as I saw him under the water. I could’ve helped him sooner. And he’d have lived.
All these thoughts passed through my mind in half a second.
I gave Daddy Longlegs a poke with my finger. I didn’t recite any incantations, but the finger must’a been blessed with a lifegiving touch. Or maybe he was actually just alive. Daddy Longlegs became animated. He moved.
A sigh of relief.