Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Dreaded Flea

When I left San Francisco, I lamented that "I left my heart in San Francisco."

My heart cheered up when I arrived in Auckland. The weather was fantastic, not too hot and not too cold, after a few bitter cold winter in Canada, this was heavenly. There were beautiful plants and flowers and trees. It was almost a paradise, except for one horrible, dreaded little thing.

This thing is the flea. It is a tiny little thing like an ant, but it can jump so quickly that you need to have a special skill that only the native Aucklanders know how to. They pitied me when they saw the reddish swollen welts on my body. Their secret is to catch the nasty little thing by wetting your finger with your tongue. Your spit will prevent the flea from jumping as the spit acts like a glue on its legs. Then you trap it and wage war on it. It is all well said if you see the wretched thing. 90% of the time, it sucks your blood leaving as many as fifty welts.

They tell me that it is not the bites that is hurting me, it is my allergic reaction. Most lucky chaps may be bitten just as many times as me, but they don't react at all. In my first flat, there were five of us, two of us suffered badly. The bites itch so bad, we scratch, then they bleed. They keep you awake. They leave dried blood stains on your sheets. The non sufferers tease that we didn't shower or we had sweet blood.

By coincidence, I was to marry the water engineer whose spirit was broken by the flea bites. He had to see the doctor so many times that it wasn't funny. So my kids too suffer the same fate. We strip our bedding and sun them if the weather is good. It is to no avail.

My sister Rose visited from Australia and vowed she would never be back. She joked that her husband might think that she caught some sort of venereal disease because she had big welts all over her body and limbs. When she went back to Australia, she soaked all her clothing in dettol.

However, Auckland bid her to come again the next year. She brought her husband. This time, I just had a bout of flea bites, and the bugger bit her again. We went to Foodtown supermarket and bought flea bombs. Four aerosol cans of bomb, and I still lost the battle. The bugger just hid some where and went into hibernation.

Three month later, the dreaded flea is back biting me. It was okay in winter when I hide my blobs of black scars wearing long pants. But come summer, I can't hide them for ever, what would happen when I go to the beach?

I called Rose to tell her I have been bitten again. Rose laughed.

I went to ESOL class, I spoke to two Hong Kong students. They told me to spray some WHOA water which I mistook as FOUR water, aka Buddhist water. I said no, I don't want FOUR water because I am a Christian. Then she said, some thing which I understood to be FIOR water aka kerosene. They suggest I spray all round the outside of the house, and if I can stand the smell, to spray inside and on the carpet.

I was about to buy some kerosene, when I told my friend C. She said, I won't do that. Some one might walk past the house and drop a cigarette butt. That voom!!! the house goes up in flame and the water engineer comes back on Friday from Australia to see the house in cinders and us sleeping in a tent.

My neighbour tells me to plant the herb, Pennyroyal around and inside my home. It repels fleas. The first thing I will do tomorrow is to pay my local garden centre a visit. Hopefully they have this mint and hopefully it will work.

One last word, people say if you have pets like dogs and cats, you will get fleas. I don't have any pets.


This species of Mint, a native of most parts of Europe and parts of Asia, is the Pulegium of the Romans, so named by Pliny from its reputed power of driving away fleas - pulex being the Latin for flea, hence the Italian pulce and the French puce. This name given the plant in ancient times has been retained as its modern specific name

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