Saturday, October 15, 2016

Deadly Flying Needles (致命的飞针)

Roaming in tropical forests or even crop plantations is a dangerous thing. Not only one has to face with various wild animals and plants; there are also venomous insects such as scorpions, bees and centipedes. Amongst all of those poisonous insects, perhaps the deadliest one is none other than the hornets. To me as a layman, there are two types of hornets: one that build their hives on trees and under house roofs, and the other build their hives on the ground. Both of the hornet species are lethal, except that since the hives of ground hornets are not normally visible, and their hives are situated on the ground; people especially kids would stumble onto them fairly easily if not careful.

When I was staying in my grandparent’s rubber plantation, news of rubber tappers or farmers killed after they had accidentally stepped onto the hives of ground hornet were often heard. It normally took a few stings from the ground hornets to paralyze an adult and even fewer to kill a child. I have lost two of my best school mates after being attacked by ground hornets. Both of them stayed near my grandparent’s house so we used to walk to school together. Normally we would take the normal route which was a straighter and clearer route. There was also another shortcut that would cut the distance by half but we must pass through a piece of secondary forest.

So the story goes, one day after the morning school; three of us decided to take the shortcut back since the weather was very hot. As we were walking through the forest, suddenly one of my friend stepped onto a hornet hive and almost instantly those pitch black hornets rushed out and started to attack three of us. Of course three of us dispersed and ran as fast as we could. As I was running frantically with some lethal pursuers close behind, I remembered that my grandma had tugged a raincoat in my school bag. I used to grumble the raincoat was bulky but every time I took out it, my granny would tug it back into my bag… now it became my life saver.

Without hesitation, as I was running; I pulled out my rain coat and quickly lay face down onto the ground with the raincoat covering my body. As soon as I got myself covered, I could head a series of buzzling sound over me. Though I was covered, I still suffered one sting on my right hand with a permanent scar left as souvenir to date. I am not sure how long did the hornets lingered over me but I laid on the ground until the buzzling was gone. After the coast was clear, I quickly ran back to inform my grandparents what had happened.

A search and rescue team was gathered to search for my two other companions, unfortunately speaking; both of them were found lifeless…

My second encounter with hornets was during one of the Chinese New Year with my cousins in the rubber plantation. Unlike modern days, New Year during old days were pretty boring. With almost all of the shops closed and there were practically no entertainments for the kids except listening to radio stations and to play fire crackers. During that time, kids could think of just about any games with fire crackers: they could put a burning firecracker and covered it with a can, and then watch the can being blew up and flung 20 feet high etc.

This time, the ordeal started when one of my cousins threw a firecracker either intentionally or unintentionally towards a big bee hive on an old rubber tree. As soon as the firecracker exploded, out came the angry bees madly attacking all of us. Luckily there was a river nearby where the bee hive was and we all jumped into the river until the bees left. All of us got stung and were hospitalized for one day. I could still remember the look on my parents’ face then…

Now, of course; I would just keep a distance with those lethal flying needles where ever I am. Oh, there are certainly other types of flying needles out there and those are lethal too…

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