Enter the Dragon: My Battle with a Bat, Straight Out of Game of Thrones


Enter the Dragon: My Battle with a Bat, Straight Out of Game of Thrones

Illustration: Robin Chakraborty

Do you have an irrational fear of lizards, spiders, snakes, or fish? Or heights? Or closed spaces? Well, then you’re certainly not alone. Approximately 10 per cent of people in America alone, suffer from some phobia or the other.

I discovered mine on my honeymoon in Paris. After a long serpentine queue, my wife and I finally made it to the top of the Eiffel Tower. The sun was going down, the air was brisk and nippy, the view out of the world. It was romantic with a capital R.

And then I looked down. A sheer 300-metre drop to the bottom. I completely lost my shit.

It felt as if my stomach had suddenly emptied out and my head was dizzy and I was scared as a jack rabbit caught in headlights. I held on tight to my wife saying we have to get out of here NOW! She couldn’t understand why I was saying that just 10 seconds after reaching the top. But I must have looked like a ghost, so instead of arguing as she always does, she escorted me into the lift – and as we went down, my heartbeat gradually settled. Later I found out I have acrophobia, a fear of heights.

My wife, not one to be left behind, has arachnophobia. She will burst into squeals of terror at the mere sight of a small spider on a windowsill. Imagine what happened when one appeared at her shower stall in an Airbnb in the Lake District in England recently. And I, the valiant knight, came to the rescue.

Hero Number 1. For squashing a small defenceless thing to death for no fault of its own. Am I murderer? A protector? Or just a guy who likes to see his wife not panicking?

About a year ago, my 16-year-old daughter was putting on her jeans and she felt something soft and squishy against her thigh. She pulls down the jeans to discover a semi-squashed lizard. Her screams are worthy of the tortured souls on Game of Thrones. Today my house has peacock feathers in the unlikeliest of places because peacock feathers are to lizards what lizards are to us… go figure. Something about evolution and visible hazards and a handy tip for those of you out there who share a similar aversion toward our small reptilian friends.

My younger daughter – at age eight – refused to step into the pristine waters of the Koh Samui beach because there are tiny little fish in the sea. She is terrified. No matter how much I try and talk sense into both my daughters and wife about these being completely irrational fears, nothing seems to work. I am surprised at the number of many other, perfectly rational people who have these same phobias.

According to Wikipedia, “phobias can be divided into specific phobiassocial phobia, and agoraphobia.” These can include the fear of “certain animals, natural environment situations, blood or injury, and specific situations”, though the most common are spiderssnakes, and heights. (Yay! My family and I are in the top 3!)

Anyway, despite my acrophobia, I see myself as a sceptic and a rationalist and a guru advising my family and flock about their phobias… until a bat flies into my room last night.

I am watching GoT, a sequence that involves dragons. Suddenly, I hear a flutter of wings and a mini dragon enters. For a second I wonder if I’m imagining this, if art is becoming reality – because by now, I confess, I am a bit high. But no. The apparition is real. And apparent.

Immediately I think this could go viral if I shoot it. But my phone is 10 feet away and I am scared to reach for it. I recall a line from a poem – “Bats clutch out human hair with demon force” – I cover my head with my hands and rediscover that thankfully, I have no hair. Fuck the phone. How do I get the demon out of the room?

Like the dragons of GoT, it is flying hard and fast with full confidence. All that is missing is the hissing. The Song of Ice and Fire. It is light, agile, and big enough to be threatening to a small guy like me. I immediately Google my mind – since I can’t reach my computer – and recall that bats don’t like lights. So I turn on all the lights. He’s still flying around like he is king of the fucking castle.

Lets kill him with the fans! I turn on both fans at full speed hoping the fucker will be crushed to pulp under one of their wings.

No such luck.

In desperation, I say, “I, RayC, House of Chaudhuri, The First Born, Ruler of the Seven Kingdoms and Protector of the Realms must step up to the task.”

The first weapon I choose in my sparsely furnished half guest-house, half shooting-floor, half rendezvous point of illicit alliances and substances, is a piece of thermocol.

Not smart. Thermocol breaks easily, and before I can swing my sword at the enemy, it disintegrates in my hand as if the White Walkers had just walked in.

In desperation I look around for another weapon. A roll of toilet paper? My laptop? A poster? I go with a plastic hanger. Not quite Valyrian steel, but equal to the task.

The battle between Man and Bat takes 10 minutes. And Man wins.

I was Batman.

Have you ever seen a dead bat? I saw it for the first time today. It was the prototype of a dragon. Half of land. Half of sky. Entirely of legend.

It was small and exquisitely beautiful and it did no harm. But I had to kill it because it created an irrational fear in me.

Am I murderer? A protector? Or just a guy who likes to see his wife not panicking?

I breathlessly WhatsApp the story to my family. My wife tells me to wash my hands because bats have rabies.

I take her advice and wash my hands. And as I did, I wept. I still don’t know whether out of relief, the extinguishing of an irrational fear, or because I had blood of an innocent creature on my hands.