A Midnight Sortie

A Midnight Sortie

It’s been a long day. Finally home. NEPA is playing nice: there is electricity supply from the grid. Microwaved one of the roasted plantain I had bought earlier in the day. A quick foray into the kitchen showed rice and stew was available. I had no interest in the white rice, but I put a liberal spoonful of the stew on the plantain along with a piece of beef and stuck the plate in the microwave for a minute and a half – enough to start hearing the stew sizzle.

I like to unwind with a good movie now and then. I go through my stash and come up with “A most wanted man”. A quick dash to imdb.com returned a rating of 7.0/10.0. Quite high. I was feeling better already.

First plantain disappeared so quickly I was wondering if the rats that made the holes in the ceiling had somehow been sneaking up to the plate while I was occupied with the movie. Ah well. Good things come in twos or is it threes? Doesn’t matter. There is a second copy of that plantain downstairs. Repeated the same steps as with the first, in and out of the microwave and back to the room.

The movie is picking up speed and I am really getting into it. I decided I might as well stretch out on the bed rather than sit like a student taking an exam paper at the writing desk on the little wood and metal chair.

It wasn’t long after I got on the bed that I heard the first buzz go by my ear. I swiped at it but I knew already that not being Jet Li or Jackie Chan or Chuck Norris (everything is afraid of him including Onions and mosquitoes. You can ask DSTV about the Onions) or Jean Claude Van Damme (film script: get up, impress mosquito with full split, deliver a roundhouse kick to it while it’s clapping for your seriously awesome ability to keep certain delicate parts of your anatomy from making full and painful contact with the floor while performing a full split, roll credits, that’s a cut! Did I miss anything?)

There is nothing that can keep me up like a mosquito in the room. You could put an 800-pound Silverback in the room; you could hide the white elephant in the corner of the room in plain site; you could bring in a great white (shark) and I won’t even bat an eyelid. But put a mosquito in my room, and I will be on watch-night duty till either I kill it; fall asleep from exhaustion; or the new day sun peeps over the horizon and it’s time to get ready for work.

So I got up, bunched the coverlet in one hand and swiped it randomly in the air throughout the room. If I was lucky, I would hit the darn thing and send it to whatever hell is reserved for such critters.

Having ran round the room like a crazy hobo for a couple of minutes, I settled back down on the bed and continued watching the movie. Maybe 10 minutes later, there was another buzz. I swiped at the air. Jumped up, repeated the same sequence with the coverlet and went back to watching the film. Hopefully I got it this time.

A little time later: Common! I couldn’t take it anymore. It’s well past 11PM. I was in my briefs. I put on my “carmo” shots and a shirt. Hunted around for my purse, slipped into a pair of slippers and headed out into the night. I was going to the mom and pop shop a couple of streets away.

Well the mom and pop shop is run by men (something to do with the culture I suppose) and there really was no shop. Not any more. There used to be a stall but it had been demolished by the council or the environmental task force. Now the only thing there was the deep freezer out of which the family sold cold drinks and all their other for sale goods were under plastic sheets in the compound of the house in front of which they had the freezer.

The oldest of the men (I call him “Baba”) was there on his feet, resting his forearms on the top of the freezer and obviously dozing. “This life is hard” (don’t go there – already trademarked by a close friend). I called out to him gently:

“Baba. I want an insecticide.”

He came awake but didn’t quite catch what I had said.

“You want a spray starch?” he asked.

“No. An insecticide. For mosquitoes.”

He goes into the compound and comes back with two spray cans. One for RAID and the other for BAYGON.

“This one is 400 Naira and this one is 600 Naira” (the RAID is 400 while the BAYGON is 600).

“Which one is stronger?” I asked.

He indicated the BAYGON and I asked him to sell it to me.

He comes back with the change and hands me 450 Naira. I called his attention to it and he said not to worry, he sold it to me at an extra 50 Naira discount.

“Na go de. Thank you. Good night” I said. I am a friendly and frequent customer.

I matched home with my can of “mosquito-death” in my hands. I was feeling better already.

I got back to the room and doused it heavily in the stuff. I was going to have to stay out of the room for some time and the last thing I wanted was to skimp on the insecticide only to come back after say 30 to 50 minutes later and find out that the critter had managed to survive. Besides a good night’s sleep is worth half a can of insecticide at 300 Naira.

So I go downstairs and type this story out. It had started percolating in my brain the moment I decided to go and buy the insecticide.

I go back upstairs and open the closed windows to let in the fresh air while keeping the mosquito netting closed.

I hope it was worth it. Otherwise I might have to take drastic action. A friend described his mosquito eradication technique to me.

He covers his whole body (jeans trousers, socks, gloves, the whole caboodle) leaving only one arm exposed. He then gets on the bed and switches off all the lights in the room and holds on to a torchlight or some small light source. Sure enough the mosquitoes in the room one by one find their way towards his exposed arm and the light. He dispatches them off one by one until none shows up anymore.

Let me say I discovered this myself a long time ago. I just didn’t do the “honeytrap” thing. I used to put off all the bulbs in the room and go seat on the toilet with only the light in the toilet on. Sure enough, the mosquitoes start to migrate into the toilet one by one or two by twos. Against the light they were easy enough targets to kill. I would then wait for quite a while after the last one was dispatched. No more leisurely entrances? Good. I had probably got them all. Back to bed. I can’t for the life of me remember why I didn’t just spray the room with an insecticide. But I do remember that on some of the occasions, I had gone to bed very late only to discover I had bloodsucking companions sharing the room with me, and it was too late to go get an insecticide as all the shops would have closed by then, so I resorted to plan b: the toilet trap.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I think the mosquito should be dead by now. But it still gets my goat that you can’t actually gloat over their tiny dead bodies when you resort to WMDs or chemical warfare to get rid of them. There is nothing like the satisfaction of swatting a mosquito and seeing the squashed mess containing your fresh blood which you have managed to retrieve/liberate (albeit no longer useful) from the not-dearly departed.

I think the insecticide should be almost gone now (diluted by the fresh air coming in from the open windows). Time to go back and see if uhuru (freedom) from “things heard but not seen” has been achieved.

I have to go in quickly and in stealth-mode so that I don’t get any undead hanging out outside my door piggybacking me into the room.

But not to worry, I had sprayed the corridor outside the room as well. That’s thinking outside the box (or room) if I myself may say so.

All should be just peachy now. unless of course I somehow called dibs on an insecticide-resistant mosquito. In which case I won’t take it lying down – literally.


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