I HAVE a personal fly.
It adopted me on Tuesday as I walked to work and has been with me since.
My colleagues say don’t be ridiculous. They say it’s a different fly; probably several different flies, and it’s just a coincidence.
Nope. It’s the same fly. I’m sure of it. I’ve seen a lot of it and I’m beginning to recognise it in the same way you can recognise your own labrador from all the other labradors.
If the bloody thing would “Stay!” when I tell it Ñ as any self-respecting labrador would Ñ I’d swat it; but it’s too fast. Faster than me, anyway.
And in the past couple of days I’ve been having second thoughts. I meanâ€¦ maybe it’s trying to tell me something. Something more profound, I mean, than: “I’ve just pooed on your fried egg.”
It occurred to me that maybe we’ve met before, in a past life. His past life, anyway. Or hers. Maybe we knew each other when he/she was a person! Then I went through all the people I’ve known who might have done something bad enough to be reincarnated as a fly, and I couldn’t think of any.
Then a worse thought hit me: maybe in the food chain of reincarnation a fly is higher up than a person!
Maybe a human being is as low as it gets. When you’re really, really bad, you come back with an opposing thumb and the ability to wage war. Even a cockroach is better off than that.
We are, after all, in the process of destroying the planet we live on, and there’s no other living organism that’s done that, or tried as hard as we are.
I read this week that eminent scientist Dr James Lovelock reckons six billion people will die in the next 100 years as global warming causes plague, drought, flood, famine, and conflict.
(With any luck one of the survivors will be a counsellor who runs those How-to-Handle-Stress-in-the-Office workshops, so we’ll all be okay).
But I’m getting off the point, which is: who is this fly? And what does he want? Besides my fried egg?
I have tried waving him away (I know it’s a he â€“ if it were a she, she would have shown more interest in my muesli than my fried egg).
I’ve tried swatting him and I’ve tried the Buddhist approach, which is learning to love him. Nothing is working. If it is the reincarnation of an old friend then it must be one who wasn’t very bright, because the next step is a can of fly spray, and I doubt he can survive that.
But now I am slightly nervous. I know it’s silly, but once I gave headroom to this nonsense about reincarnation I somehow invested this insect with a personality. I fancy its buzz has subtle nuances of warmth, frustration and Ñ possibly Ñ affection. We are reaching that stage in our relationship where I can’t kill him because he’s a person. Or he might have been once.
Never mind all that. I think the problem is about to resolve itselfâ€¦ he has just fallen in my beer (where no doubt he is having a long and satisfying pee) and he is struggling among the froth. The urgency of his buzzing has been muted by bubbles. I think I will just walk away now, pop down the pub and come back in an hour or two.
It’s not as if I’m responsible. I mean â€“ he went in there without so much as a by-your-leave. And if you have to go, you couldn’t really ask for anything better than drowning in beer. If I could throw a female fly in there with him, I would, and then he’d die really happy.
Unless, or course, he’s going to come back as a person; but surely he doesn’t deserve that?