It is an odd experience. I feel like a child, playing a game. There are only fluorescent lights on the ceiling, and the light switch is by the door, miles from my bed. There is no nightstand, no light by the bed. It is spare. After plunging the room into complete darkness, for there is no light anywhere, I cross the room using the small flashlight I brought for power outages. I duck under the mosquito tent awkwardly, kicking off slippers, and pulling the netting carefully into place on all sides to prevent even the slightest gap. If I was seven years old this would be a magical game, but at my age, I feel like I lumber and the mosquitos are real. But I still have that child-like feeling as I settle on my back, flash-light in hand, illuminating the huge netting over me and around me. This is how to sleep in Kenya.
I turn off the light.
And then he arrives, the lone mosquito, microphone in hand, seeming as large as a vulture, and he circles the netting, and I hear him, first on my left, then my right, then high above, now getting very close, humming loudly into his amplification system, trying to attack. But I am safe in my tent, and my 7 year-old self loves my castle-bed-fortress, and I fall asleep as the mosquito sings his loud song of disturbance to no avail.
I wake in the middle of the night. He is still there. There is always only one, a loud soloist, persistent and very close. When you are trying to fall back asleep the buzz of a loud mosquito becomes the attack of a tormenter. He is relentless and loud, ‘Tzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.’
I am safe, and I fall back asleep.