The Shadow Of The Sun

|July 22, 2015 | Reading, Travels

“The only window in my room (number 107) gave out on a gloomy, fetid air shaft, from which a revolting odor arose. I turned on the light. The walls, the bed, the table, and the floor were black. Black with cockroaches. I have encountered throughout the world all imaginable types of insects, and have even developed indifference toward the fact, even come to accept, that we live among countless millions of flies, roaches, and ticks, among ever-replenished swarms of wasps, spiders, earwigs, and scarabs, amid billows of gadflies and mosquitoes, clouds of voracious locusts. But this time I was stunned; not so much by the number of cockroaches – although that, too, was shocking – but by their dimensions, by the size of each one of these creatures. These were roach giants, as big as small turtles, dark, gleaming, covered in bristles, and mustached. What made them grow so large? What did they feed on? Their monstrous proportions paralyzed me. For years now I had been swatting flies and mosquitoes, fleas and spiders, with impunity; now, however, I was facing something of an entirely different order. How should I deal with such colossi? What should I do with them? What stance should I adopt toward them? Kill them? With what? How? My hands shook at the very prospect. I felt that I wouldn’t know how, that I wouldn’t even have the courage to try. More – because of the cockroaches’ extraordinary dimensions, I felt certain that if I leaned over them and listened, I would hear them emitting some sound. After all, many other creatures their size communicate in a variety of ways. They squeal, croak, purr, grunt – so why not a cockroach? A normal one is too small for us to be able to hear it, but these giants? Surely they will make noises! But the room remained absolutely quiet: they were all silent – closed, voiceless, mysterious.”ThinnerThe Shadow Of The SunThinner

“I noticed, however, that when I leaned over them, straining my ears, they rapidly retreated and huddled together. Their reaction was identical whenever I repeated the gesture. Clearly, the cockroaches were revulsed by a human being, recoiled with disgust, regarded me as an exceptionally unpleasant, repugnant creature.”


“I could embellish upon this scene and describe how, infuriated by my presence, they advanced on me, attacked, crawled over me; how I became hysterical, started to tremble, fell into shock. But this would not be true. In reality, if I didn’t come near them, they behaved indifferently, moved about sluggishly and sleepily. Sometimes they pattered from one place to another. Sometimes they crawled out of a crack, or else slid into one again. Other than that – nothing.”Thinner

“I knew that a difficult and sleepless night awaited me (also because the room was inhumanly airless and hot), so I reached into my bag for some notes about Liberia.”