It’s 2:30am and I awake to hear a buzzing around my ears. At least I think I hear it. Has an enterprising insect found its way into my mosquito net?
I turn on my ToughStuff solar lamp to find out. Sure enough, I think I see a mosquito at the top of the net. But when I move around, it disappears. Maybe it was on the outside of the net and my tired eyes were confusing me as to which side it was on?
Nevertheless, I am awakened by this perhaps imaginary threat: if there is one mosquito, perhaps there are more! And they’re not going to get away with disturbing the security of my slumber.
Determined to smoke ‘em out, I crawl out from under the safety of my net to shoulder my weapon: an electric mosquito zapper I bought from a street hawker through a cab window for 9,000 shillings. Bring it on, mosquitoes.
And bring it they do. It only takes a few seconds for the first mosquito to appear, attracted by the sweet smell of my exhaled CO2. POP! Sparks fly as I deftly bring the mosquito zapper down upon the hovering bugger, sending it to a swift and electric doom.
But he is not alone. Within seconds another mosquito appears, determined to get a drink of me. ZAP! The insect’s best-laid plans explode in a flash of white as he completes the fatal circuit within the mosquito zapper. Surely justice has been done!
Still though, more mosquitoes come, from whence it is difficult to tell—seemingly they appear out of thin air. ZAP! POP! CRACK! One after another, the winged parasites meet their electric funeral. But the more I kill, the more seem to come after me, as if my presence in their territory is what is attracting them to me. And all the while I am becoming more and more sure that I am getting bit more times than I would have had I stayed under the net. It seems the only reason I am still outside the net at all is to fight mosquitoes which only threaten me because I am outside the net fighting them.
Suspecting I imagined the threat inside the net all along, I take another look around it, this time REALLY inspecting it. I shake the net, look up and down, side to side, and within. Nothing. It is becoming clear that there never was any mosquito within the net. My efforts to kill those that might bite me and to secure my sleep had only exposed me to greater risk of bites and kept me awake an hour and a half longer.
Realizing my error, I put away my weapon and crawl back in bed. There are more mosquitoes out there, but they can’t get me underneath my net. And eventually the sun will come up and the malaria-carrying mozzies will disappear for the day.
(UNLESS the real reason there were so many mosquitoes that night was because the housekeeper who normally sprays for them had neglected to for the past few days: invisible work behind the scenes that keeps mosquitoes at bay and oblivious residents safe.)
They’d cost me some sleep, but at least I had time to write a blog post.