Opinion

Killing the Bedbugs: A short story that has absolutely nothing to do with demonetisation

How a guest proposed a novel way to deal with bedbugs in a wooden house.

Once there was a house – a house made of wood. When too many people inhabited it, the structure would tremble a bit. Yet, it was known to withstand shocks, even earthquakes.

The house had far more people than it could accommodate. Besides, it was always crawling with bedbugs, who were adept at doing their business on beds as well as mattresses on the floor. Since the house was open to visitors, conversations would inevitably lead to the bugs and how the residence could be rid of the pesky and unwanted creepy-crawlies. But nothing much changed and at times, even the departure of visitors (for reasons best known to them) would add to the bug menace.

Then one day, a rather distinctive guest landed up. From the time he made his entry, he told everyone in no uncertain terms that he would decimate the bugs in no time. As the days passed and there was precious little evidence of this action, murmurs began. “What happened to the promised slaughter?” they asked him.

So one night, when everyone was just about preparing to doze off, the guest started pouring kerosene on the wooden beams and out came a match to light them up. In no time at all, the fire became an inferno. People ran out out of the house, some fell and got injured and a few even lost their lives.

Caught cruelly unawares, everybody started asking the guest,”‘What have you done? You have burnt an entire house down to kill bedbugs?”

The guest replied, “Don’t you worry. This fire will now claim all the bedbugs and you will forever have a peaceful time. Just think about how those bugs are getting roasted in the flames at this very moment. How they must be scurrying for cover – here, there, everywhere. Shouldn’t you feel grateful at that thought instead of complaining about a burnt house?”

No sooner did he finish saying that than a few of them vigorously offered their support: “Yes, there was no other way to make this house free of bugs,” they said. “However once a new edifice comes up, everyone will benefit from it.”

On hearing this, people not only started nodding their heads in affirmation but even began clearing the remains of the scorched house. In doing so, they that realised a whole lot of bedbugs had taken refuge underground and as the embers cleared, they started coming out, hoping to move into their new home.

Experts now started holding forth on whether it was fitting to have razed an entire house to crush a few bugs. Was the step advantageous or counterproductive? That quite a few bugs got charred inside the home (and in mattresses) was seen as a positive outcome. It was presumed that even the ones that got away would now stop stinging, because they would be petrified.

Still others said, “So what if the house got destroyed, at least there was an effort to kill the bugs. Tell us if there was anyone in the past who even thought of taking such a courageous step? Now wait and see how a wonderful new house will come up to take the place of the old one.”

Soon enough, the guest once again announced in grand fashion: “The solution to put an end to bedbugs has just been discovered. Henceforth, no one but no one should sleep in their beds or sit on their chairs or couches. We will make this home “seat-less” just so the bugs cannot pester us anymore.”

Translated from Gujarati by Vistasp Hodiwala

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Following a mountaineer as he reaches the summit of Mount Everest

Accounts from Vikas Dimri’s second attempt reveal the immense fortitude and strength needed to summit the Everest.

Vikas Dimri made a huge attempt last year to climb the Mount Everest. Fate had other plans. Thwarted by unfavourable weather at the last minute, he came so close and yet not close enough to say he was at the top. But that did not deter him. Vikas is back on the Everest trail now, and this time he’s sharing his experiences at every leg of the journey.

The Everest journey began from the Lukla airport, known for its dicey landing conditions. It reminded him of the failed expedition, but he still moved on to Namche Bazaar - the staging point for Everest expeditions - with a positive mind. Vikas let the wisdom of the mountains guide him as he battled doubt and memories of the previous expedition. In his words, the Everest taught him that, “To conquer our personal Everest, we need to drop all our unnecessary baggage, be it physical or mental or even emotional”.

Vikas used a ‘descent for ascent’ approach to acclimatise. In this approach, mountaineers gain altitude during the day, but descend to catch some sleep. Acclimatising to such high altitudes is crucial as the lack of adequate oxygen can cause dizziness, nausea, headache and even muscle death. As Vikas prepared to scale the riskiest part of the climb - the unstable and continuously melting Khumbhu ice fall - he pondered over his journey so far.

His brother’s diagnosis of a heart condition in his youth was a wakeup call for the rather sedentary Vikas, and that is when he started focusing on his health more. For the first time in his life, he began to appreciate the power of nutrition and experimented with different diets and supplements for their health benefits. His quest for better health also motivated him to take up hiking, marathon running, squash and, eventually, a summit of the Everest.

Back in the Himalayas, after a string of sleepless nights, Vikas and his team ascended to Camp 2 (6,500m) as planned, and then descended to Base Camp for the basic luxuries - hot shower, hot lunch and essential supplements. Back up at Camp 2, the weather played spoiler again as a jet stream - a fast-flowing, narrow air current - moved right over the mountain. Wisdom from the mountains helped Vikas maintain perspective as they were required to descend 15km to Pheriche Valley. He accepted that “strength lies not merely in chasing the big dream, but also in...accepting that things could go wrong.”

At Camp 4 (8,000m), famously known as the death zone, Vikas caught a clear glimpse of the summit – his dream standing rather tall in front of him.

It was the 18th of May 2018 and Vikas finally reached the top. The top of his Everest…the top of Mount Everest!

Watch the video below to see actual moments from Vikas’ climb.

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Vikas credits his strength to dedication, exercise and a healthy diet. He credits dietary supplements for helping him sustain himself in the inhuman conditions on Mount Everest. On heights like these where the oxygen supply drops to 1/3rd the levels on the ground, the body requires 3 times the regular blood volume to pump the requisite amount of oxygen. He, thus, doesn’t embark on an expedition without double checking his supplements and uses Livogen as an aid to maintain adequate amounts of iron in his blood.

Livogen is proud to have supported Vikas Dimri on his ambitious quest and salutes his spirit. To read more about the benefits of iron, see here. To read Vikas Dimri’s account of his expedition, click here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Livogen and not by the Scroll editorial team.