The Year of the Rooster was good to me. I had my perfectly happy and healthy new girl, nothing tops that. Of course, sleepless nights make this beautiful truth a little fuzzy but still, I am truly grateful.

All the mythology that accompany Tet and the 12 signs of the Chinese zodiac made me wonder if there is any mythology regarding geckos, and I started reading.

Almost universally, geckos are a good omen and a sign of good luck especially in Southeast Asia. In Indonesia, they think that the number of gecko barks can predict the future; also the more a gecko barks, especially at night, the luckier the homeowner. It’s also believed that geckos can guide searches for objects of heritage in the woods! In Japan, it is believed that geckos are an incarnation of the imperial dragon and they are included in most religious rituals.

In China, dried skins of geckos are used to treat ailments such as diabetes, asthma, cancer and skin diseases. They consider geckos a pillar of future medicinal breakthroughs and appreciate their existence in their houses.

Not everybody is infatuated by geckos. In Portugal, geckos are associated with uncleanliness and skin disease. In Sub-Saharan Africa tribes, if a gecko moves in, a house must be abandoned and burned down. In Nigeria, geckos are the sign of bad luck. In Egypt, geckos are believed to cause leprosy, even their name is a derivative of the name of the disease. I guess I know now that my phobia is rooted folklore!

I found nothing written on the web regarding the reason why Vietnamese people love geckos so much, but I heard stories. Narrated tales say that there were back in the days a prince and a princess fell in love. yet in a Shakespearean twist, they couldn’t be together as they came from rival families.

They were killed by grief, yet their souls were transformed into geckos, a male and female, roaming the world looking for each other while making the sound of a kiss “tsk-tsk”. Even this tragic romance didn’t make my heart beat for geckos. Sorry, but not sorry.

Like most of my Vietnamese friends, I went home for Tet. Just like a local, I celebrated the year of the dog with my family and friend … in Cairo. It was good to be home for so many reasons which made the extra-long flight with a cranky baby worth it.

One of the advantages of being in Cairo, was being off guard for few days knowing that no geckos would pop up anywhere. I saw none. They are there, yet not as many or as diverse as the ones I live with in Ho Chi Minh City.

Like all vacations, it was too short. We arrived back at Ho Chi Minh to stay at our newly-rented apartment. New year, new house, and a crisp fresh start with fewer geckos than at our old place, which had much more greenery.

Also, my therapist has helped me think more rationally about the real danger that a gecko presents. Or not. The bottom line was that I felt like I had things pretty much under control.

But on my third day back in Ho Chi Minh, I took up the air-conditioner remote control from its socket on the wall, and tiny gecko jumped out, landed on the dining table and disappeared in a split-second. My illusion of safety was shattered. I was scared and disappointed.

Many thoughts were running through my head as I fled the scene. Sure the small size of the gecko means it has parents nearby. It’s a whole family of geckos. It’s a colony!

The Nnxt day, my husband texted me from work: “I found the gecko and killed it”. That was the perfect Valentine’s Day gift.

I do feel sad it was killed. I hate this vicious circle. Theoretically, we can co-exist, but can we have separate lives? Please? I am pretty sure this is the only humane solution.