One thing even the British dreaded centuries back, more than satyagraha, is this little infamous insect
Come rains and a fresh breed of mosquitoes arrive. That is in addition to the already-staying senior mosquitoes. Whether they rag the young ones is not known, but sure they drive us nuts by their bites. Man has been swatting around the swarm or scratching the itches for ages, but the mosquito menace does not seem to die down.
It all started with the ‘whirr' of a baby mosquito, which was not music to my ears. I ‘woke up' in the middle of the night to the fact that I was in a new metro which was known for its notorious flying-jets. One thing even the British dreaded centuries back in Chennai, more than satyagraha, is this little infamous insect of India.
There have been numerous inventions to drive the mosquitoes away, but they go for a round, take a U-turn and come back with more vengeance to taste our blood. Initially, there were coils which gave out bundles of smoke. Hope they ‘obscure the vision' of mosquitoes so that the tiny ‘identifiable flying objects (IFOs)' do not spot the human presence in the fog.
With the billowing smoke clouds our bedroom resembled a notorious saint's ashram. These insects seem to use radar system or Air Traffic Control to find the human body's open strip to land and suck blood. Besides, there was always a lurking fear of fire hazard from the burning coil in bedroom while we struggle to breathe easy and sleep.
Then came a variety of creams to apply on the exposed parts (of our bodies, of course, not of mosquitoes!) before going to bed. The sweet-smell lasted a few minutes when mosquitoes ‘appeared to disappear' only to return in the middle of the night while you are in deep trance.
Frustrated by their failure, I tried to close all the windows in the evenings to prevent them from entering. In the bargain, when I hurriedly jammed the main door, my neighbour Miss Denis Misquitta got offended thinking that ‘I slammed the door on her face', ‘for no reason'. Besides, the already-staying-mosquitoes in the house could not go out for taking a fresh breath (or fresh blood).
Television ads promised mosquito repellent mats of every colour, liquids of every concentration or sprays with a variety of sweet smell, that will spot, trace, catch, kill or drive them away and your home would become ‘safe'. While every competing brand claimed to grow in its ‘strength', only their prices became ‘stronger' day-by-day and your monthly budget became weak. The mosquitoes did not bother. In fact, I even found some of them in the morning, sleeping peacefully on the mats or taking a morning siesta sitting on the liquid bottle itself.
The advent of new types of malaria, named ‘chikungunya' (what is the poor chicken to do with mosquitoes anyway?), Australian Fever, mini-chikungunya (like the mini-dosa and mini-idly you get in restaurants), threatened the human race huddled in suburbs without any sanitation.
Bonding for a cause
In any case, I decided to take the mosquitoes by their horns, sorry, wings and personally destroy them, physically. The whole of my family joined me in this crusade, smashing them against walls every night happily and there was a lot of fun too in the melee. After all, there was also a sadistic pleasure of exterminating the villains of sleep.
Other benefit was the family bonding and togetherness (at least on this issue). I used a book as weapon to crush mosquitoes and surprisingly when I looked at the title after the war, it read ‘Ahimsa: The Essence of Non-violence'. The family dropped the book (and the idea), not due to guilt, but during the daylight the walls looked ravaged, like battlefield, with blood-stains and mangled skeletons all around.
Another age-old idea of tying mosquito-net in the bedroom got revived and the family members entered the ‘tent' stealthily every night, like an Eskimo crawling into his igloo. Soon we found some mosquitoes on the ‘inside'. Not finding a way out, they had the caged-humans an easy target.
Bat, the lifesaver
I tried sealing all the windows with the net denying them entry. But the obese mosquitoes seemed to slim down soon, without going to gym and entering through the net only to spoil our sleep night after night.
At last came the Chinese with their bat as a saviour. When you swung into action, the bat gave a mild electric shock. The mosquitoes got electrocuted and went up in smoke. But you need to be quick with the bat, like a tennis player and may have a good exercise before going to bed.
Mosquitoes are in the office too. They stay under the computer table and silently take a byte, sorry, bite below. Unlike at home, there is a ‘downside' in the office, because you can't scratch where it itches!
In any case, the mighty mosquito seems to grow in confidence, going by this conversation heard recently. The father-mosquito asked his baby after its ‘first flight.' The tiny insect proudly replied: “It was great. All the humans in the house were clapping their hands for me!”
(The writer's email id is: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Keywords: mosquito menace