Today, if people were asked what they fear most, I am sure the ubiquitous mosquito would rank higher than terrorists. Such is its reach that even Z-plus protection cannot save you from it. Metal detectors, explosive detectors, sniffer dogs, even biometrics — it can pass unseen through our most evolved security systems. And it has literally robbed people of their sleep.
Recently, I experienced what its terror can reduce you to. That day, as I was leaving for work, my wife warned me, “Beware of the day biter!” As usual, I listened to her only half-attentively. You can’t blame me. It becomes a habit after long years of marriage. On weekdays, it gets worse.
At office, as I settled down to work, a mosquito came humming like Himesh Reshammiya. It buzzed right next to my ear as though saying, “Hi there! I dropped in for a quick bite.”
I panicked and instinctively slapped my temple, harder than necessary. I missed and saw the mosquito flying away. Unmindful of the ringing sensation in the ear, I lunged at it as a short fine leg fielder does to take an impossible catch. It escaped again. Suddenly, I realised what my wife was telling me.
Now, more determined, I left my seat and went after the mosquito. My room began to resound with the striking of my empty palms. Hearing this, my PA came rushing in. He found me doing a sort of tandava. For a moment, he stood still, seemingly enjoying the performance. Then, as I stopped to catch my breath, he asked smilingly, “May I help you sir?”
“Yes, look there, the mosquito.” Getting the cue, he too got involved in the operation as passionately.
But the mosquito proved to be more slippery than even Osama bin Laden. It dodged us by first hiding behind the curtains, and then by flying to the ceiling. While we were thinking of ways to persuade it to come down, the peon entered the room to announce a visitor. The PA whispered audibly, “Ask him to wait. Don’t you see, sir is dealing with a more important visitor?”
Seeing no one in the room, the peon gave the PA a puzzled look. The PA pointed towards the mosquito. The sharp peon quickly went outside and returned with a can of insecticide. Then, with a well-aimed spray he brought down the pest and looked at us as if we were a couple of fools.