Things that go buzzz in the night

Posted: September 10, 2007 in Blog

A dead-on description from “The Shadow of the Sun” by Ryszard Kapuscinski about his travels in Africa. P 62;

“In one room I have a table and chairs, in the other a bed draped with mosquito netting; its festive presence— it resembles a white, trailing wedding train— is meant more to reassure the tenant than to deter mosquitos: a mosquito will always manage to slip through. It almost seems that these small but insistent aggressors establish each evening a battle plan meant to exhaust their victims, because if there are ten of them, say, they do not attack all together— which would allow you to deal with them all at once and have peace for the rest of the night— but one by one. The first to take off is, as it were, the scout, whose reconnaissance mission the rest closely observe. Well rested after a good day’s sleep, he torments you with his demonic buzzing, until finally, sleepy, and furious, you organize a hunt, kill him; you are just lying down again, confident of returning to sleep, just turning off the light, when the next one begins his loops, spirals and corkscrews.

“After years (or rather, years of nights) spent observing mosquitos, I reached the conclusion that this creature is possessed of a deeply seated suicide instinct, some uncontrollable need for self-destruction. Witnessing the demise of the predecessors does not discourage them, instead they hurl themselves one after the other, clearly excited and desperately determined, toward an inevitable and quick death.”

As if to drive the point home, while typing this quote, a mosquito larger that my thumbnail began buzzing around my head in my darkened bedroom. A swift blow didn’t so much kill it, as leave it only momentarily dazed. A mini-tape case finally did it in. When compared to the mosquitos back home, the ones here sometimes make you feel like the undersized combatant in a high school parking lot fight whose strongest roundhouse was just brushed off by the school bully.

I can still see at least three more of them buzzing about the room. I sometimes wonder whether mosquito nets are meant to protect against the insects, or whether they were dreamed-up by the mosquitos themselves as a way to keep their quarry in an enclosed pen for a midnight feast.


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