Raucous rascals




An offending mosquito buzzes around your ears with an irritating racket. Good-old-lord! Why can’t a mosquito for chrissake attack and bite stealthily? Tell me, which other predator attacks its prey while making delirious noises and screaming at the top of their lungs? Why can’t a mosquito make a direct attack, suck blood to their fill and leave in peace? You feel extremely offended by the damn insect. It makes you get into a murderous rage. You try to establish its position hitting it hard against your own body without success. It comes back with increased resolve. The insect has vowed not to sleep hungry. Is it hungry or thirsty? You grow mad and helpless at the same time. You wish the damn thing would be a bit bigger say the size of a rodent. It would be easier to catch and kill.

I usually wonder what goes on in the mind of the insect if at all it has one. I have my doubts about an organism that plays dice with death repeatedly while escaping fatal swats with a whisker.

Does the mosquito say to itself that in no way it is going to bed hungry while you are lying on the bed or couch after you had your full share of supper? After all it is just a negligible amount of blood we are talking about. I am not asking for a pint. We are talking of less than a milliliter of blood. And I am gonna do all the work. I will look for the vein and do all the stuff. All I require from you is co-operation. The whole process will take a minute or two if you behave. If you stop trying to crush me every time I try to land on your skin. If you cooperate I will be done before you realize it. You will only feel a small itch when I am gone. Is that too much to ask?

Many a times, you almost put a bounty on a mosquito’s silly head. You want it captured alive so that you can kill it in a slow and excruciatingly painful death. You would pluck one leg after the other, gouge the eyes out, pluck the finger nails, and crush the nuts.

The insect is too foolish; it will just come back seconds after a close shave. After escaping a would-be crushing blow.

Most mosquito bites record.

It is 2006, I spend a night inside a van outside Neo-Makupa Garage in Mombasa. I had spent the day at the garage overseeing the vehicle’s diff being worked on as it had a mechanical problem. The mechanics didn’t get the job done by nightfall. I tried contacting the garage owner to inform him that the vehicle was out in the open with the rear wheels and the differential axles lying by its side.

He promised to come within thirty mins. Thirty minutes elapse. I call him again. He tells me he is on the way coming. It is now 7.30pm and I need to go home (to where I resided in Mishomoroni). 8.00pm , the guy hasn’t appeared. His phone is now going unanswered.

I deduce that if I go home and leave the items lying on the verandah, they would be gone in the blink of an eye. The Van owner would not take any explanations from me and he would probably take me to jail.

I don’t fancy jails and so I decide I would guard the items overnight. It is then that all the mosquitoes of Mombasa Island and a large few from mainland proper decide to feast on me. Every single mosquito in coast had a go at me. Old mosquitoes, young mosquitoes, fat mosquitoes, slender mosquitoes, mosquitoes fighting obesity, brave mosquitoes, mosquitoes with low self esteem, you name it.

I sat there inside the Van helplessly being feasted upon. I could not raise a finger or shift or make any slight movement for fear of being seen by “robbers” outside. I was not ready to blow my cover just because I had a zillion insects feeding on me.

They sucked my blood in turns each giving a chance to others who could not find an unoccupied piece of skin to perch on and feed. Some went home to bring family and friends while others went to sleep and came back to suck some more. It was a phenomenon. I swear I saw my arms lose their succulence as milliliters and milliliters of blood were siphoned by the parasites. I hold the unofficial Guinness World Record for most mosquito bites in a single night. By mind night, every inch of my body, except my buttocks and the back of my thighs where mosquitoes couldn’t reach, was itching like hell.

The temperatures inside the van must have reached 50° Celsius (Mombasa is generally hot but the situation was exacerbated by  having a zillion vulture-like creatures packed in a van) but I couldn’t open the window. There were another gazillion  insects swarming outside looking for their way inside the van to come and revel in the glory.

I braved this onslaught throughout the night. It was either that or I leave the parts to be vandalized which would translate to my going to jail. I was convinced that it was the garage owner who had connived with the mechanics to leave the vehicle outside the garage so that the parts could be “stolen” at night. Who knows? May be they even planned on having the wheels fixed at night and the vehicle driven away.

At some point in the middle of the night I saw a figure approach the garage. This was the moment! I fidgeted with the screw driver in my hand and waited. If he attempted to take anything be it a wheel nut, he would not know what struck him.  I stiffened my body further. Breathing was at its nadir. For a moment I became oblivious of the maniacs feeding on me.

The figure entered the field of a security light that was a few meters from the van. As form became more defined, I deduced that the figure was that of a slightly older person. A few more steps forward and I figured out a rungu in one hand and a torch in the other. To cut a long story short and go back to mosquitoes, the man turned out to be the watchman from a neighbouring garage.

We chatted for some time. I told him why I had decided to spend the night in the car. He concurred with my reasoning. I told him about the mosquitoes and he pitied me. He however told me that what I had gone through was expected. He argued that being new in the area, the mosquitoes had a change of diet and they could not miss such a glorious opportunity to sample visiting blood. I nearly told the Mzee that I feared the insects had been sent by the garage owner to torment and scare me away so that they could carry out their plan without any impediment.

The Mzee walked away and left me alone to wallow in the misery till morning.