But when he prostrated himself and started searching behind the trash can for the lost apple, he discovered half a roll, a greasy margarine wrapper, and the burned-out light bulb from yesterday's power cut, which it suddenly dawned on him was probably not burned out after all. Suddenly a cockroach came strolling toward him, looking weary and indifferent. It did not try to escape. At once Fima was fired with the thrill of the chase. Still on his knees, he slipped off a shoe and brandished it, then repented as he recalled that it was just like this, with a hammer blow to the head, that Stalin's agents murdered the exiled Trotsky.
The shoe froze in his hand. He observed with astonishment the creature's feelers, which were describing slow semicircles. He saw masses of tiny stiff bristles, like a mustache. He studied the spindly legs seemingly full of joints. The delicate formation of the elongated wings. He was filled with awe at the precise, minute artistry of this creature, which no longer seemed abhorrent but wonderfully perfect: a representative of a hated race, persecuted and confined to the drains, excelling in the art of stubborn survival, agile and cunning in the dark; a race that had fallen victim to primeval loathing born of fear, of simple cruelty, of inherited prejudices.
Could it be that it was precisely the evasiveness of this race, its humility and plainness, its powerful vitality, that aroused horror in us? Horror at the murderous instinct that its very presence excited in us?