Ram Babu’s Intelligent Insects

My boss Ram Babu at the old job would come up with fantasies about civilizations of intelligent insects, and tell them to us as a sort of treat. I had to mop the shed out back, and scrub the rusty tub until my hands really hurt, and then drag buckets of the blanching mixture from the old room where the tubs were, up the hill to the charging station too, and the blanching mixture made little sores in my hands and made me cough. We all slept together in the room where the heat coil passed through but it was really wet and you could barely sleep what with somebody hacking up phlegm or kicking you, or the little kids getting beat down by the big ones. It was awful. And then Ram Babu would come in and for a big treat for everybody would tell us a story. Like this one:

“So there is a kind of planet where there are aphids that make a special honey that the ants need to lay their eggs and the ants keep them in their underground chamber and drink the honey. And the aphids have their way of thinking about God and the ants have their way of thinking about God! But the aphids never know is their way of thinking about God, which is a beautiful way, really for their benefit, or is it just like their honey, a refined sweet that they were bred to produce for the enjoyment of their masters.”

There was a big sore in my wrist that some of the blanching mixture got in and it would never get better — it just got raw and worse, and it made it so I could not carry the buckets fast enough and then I would get the beat down which would make me go even slower. That was a horrible day! And that night when my teeth hurt, my eyes hurt, my balls hurt, and I had a fever and felt like throwing up, Ram Babu comes in and gives us an other treat. Another insect story.

“There is a planet where the intelligent life form are a kind of huge cockroach that live in balls for warmth when the planet’s elliptical orbit takes it far from the sun. And at the middle of these balls some of the cockroaches will live. And on the outside some of the cockroaches will die. And they believe that when the cockroaches on the outside freeze to death, then that is when they know God. But that is because they also believe that there are secrets written in their brains that they can only read when they die. And why do they believe that? It is a fungus infection caused by too much humidity when their planet gets close to its orange sun.”

God I loved killing Ram Babu, not just because I never had to deal with dragging that awful blanching mixture from the shed past that one time when I held him down in it. What I loved most about it was that never, ever again for as long as I lived would I have to hear one of his stories about insects.


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