At first she heard it in the far distance, like the sound of Baba’s rickety car when it was being started far on the other side of the street. A handful of children in the neighborhood would gather around the trunk of the car and help Baba push it all the way round the block of bungalows and onto the main street right in front of their house on his way to the filling station. It spurted little bursts of air and sighed with thirst for the one gallon of petrol that it would most definitely thrive on for the rest of its dusty day on the parched dry streets of Yendi.
And now it sounded closer as it zoomed around her head and ears, continuing its annoying drone.
It sounded like Amelia’s old irritating Kenwood blender. That noise always seemed to go on and on with her almost irritating chore of blending together the ingredients for the ‘shito’ that was served with the “waakye” in the school canteen. How she hated that blender. She hated it with all her soul, especially on Saturday afternoons because it would disrupt her beloved ‘By-the-fireside’ television show hosted by Ghana’s acclaimed mistress of folktelling,‘Maame Dokono’. Just when the tale would get interesting and Kweku Ananse the spider was about to unbutton his shirt for some mischief, the blender would come alive and not only drown out the noise of the lovely folksongs from the story teller, but shake the black and white images on the television screen until the poor little characters were zigzagging all over.
She pulled the covers of the old cloth over her head to drown out the miserable noise.
It was of no help. There was singing in her ears and she felt a tiny breeze as it sped around her ears and tried to land on her forehead. She slapped herself on the face out of frustration.
She sat up and tried to get a better view of this mosquito in the darkness. All she could make out was Meeli’s dark silhouette against the wall next to her on the bed. In her bid to rid herself of the mosquito she had pulled the piece of cloth they were sharing all the way to her side. Meeli’s thighs lay exposed and there, right above her knee, sat the tiny enemy sucking away. She watched it in calm anger. In her mind’s eye she could already picture how the scene would unfold. It was like the Sunday morning she had gone to buy ‘kooko’ and ‘koose’.
She couldn’t wait to get home, shaking the bag of kooko from left to right she watched as the sugar slowly but surely distributed itself evenly across the hot millet porridge through the transparent polythene. Then biting the tip of one end she began to suck the sweet spicy porridge onto her tongue. Then out of nowhere, Musa showed up and snatched it rudely out of her hands. He held it out of her reach and pretended to suck at it from time to time imitating her slurping noises and smacking his lips in satisfaction to taunt her. This must be the area bully Meeli had warned her about. Who did this boy think he was anyway? Oh, she would give him a taste of herself by showing him that she was the opposite of her meek sister. Poor Meeli. No wonder she always looked so afraid. And this boy probably thought it was her. She would teach him never to mess with twins.
“Yaro, give me back my porridge” she said in her usual angry but calm voice.
“Herr, who are you calling a Yaro?” He danced menacingly around her. “Say please and pay your respects” he commanded.
“Please” she consented.
“You know how it is done” he continued “the ‘please’ comes out better from your mouth when you’re on your knees.” He smirked at her.
She stared at him quietly. Finally she pretended to lower herself. Musa was caught off guard.
Memuna didn’t waste time, she toppled him unto his back with one swift cross of her left foot around his legs. The porridge flew out of his hands. She caught it before it could land in the sand and she proceeded to give him the thrashing of his life. As he flayed his arms across his face to defend himself she held him down with one arm and popped the kooko back into her mouth. And then with both hands free she rained all the slaps she could onto his face till he started to cry. Seeing him helpless she paused to watch him. “Say please.” she commanded turning the tables round on him.
He shook his head a while, conceded defeat and whispered, “Please”.
Memuna let him go. He ran away still sobbing from her beating.
When he was sure he was out of her reach he shouted back a threat at her. “You will hear from my brothers” he screamed through his tears.
Memuna just laughed.
She skipped all the way back home chewing on her koose and sucking in her sugary kooko. It tasted even sweeter with the victory. She couldn’t wait to tell Meeli.
This mosquito would suffer the same fate, she thought to herself as she watched the insect go about its business.
A hot slap landed across Meeli’s thigh. She woke up that instant in a rage Memuna had never seen before. “Why have you hit me?” She demanded angrily?
“I was only protecting you from the mosquito” she explained.
“Liar!” Meeli cried out wide awake now. “There’s no mosquito inside this net.”
“Hihihi” Memuna giggled.
“Why are you laughing at me?” she asked.
“I have not laughed” Memuna answered solemnly. She was sorry the annoying insect had escaped. “But there is a very irritating mosquito in our mosquito net.”
“True” they heard a voice say “if only you would also stop to think and care for a while, you would understand we also need to survive.”
“Who is that? Meeli asked her voice echoing faintly in the dark. “Did you hear that? Memuna nodded. The buzzing sound resumed. A mosquito flew up into their faces.
“I spoke.” He said. “You heard me. Have you never truly heard a mosquito speak?” He asked them astonished.
“Walahi! Memuna, tell me we are actually not chatting with a mosquito.” Meeli clutched her twin’s hand.
Memuna nodded, her eyes wide with surprise too. She was still trying to take it all in. “Don’t worry” she tried to sound comforting “I’m sure we’re both dreaming.”
“But how could I possibly be dreaming your dream as well?”
“She has a point there you know” The mosquito pointed out to Memuna. No two dreams are ever alike.”
“No,” Memuna insisted. “Baba is always right: he says the bond between twins is so strong that it unites them. I think I started this dream and invited you into it.” She explained.
“But why would you want to dream about a talking mosquito?” her sister whined. “I hate them. Even the normal ones”
“Well we hate you lot too, you are always trying to exterminate us one way or the other” mosquito yelled back in his whiny voice, buzzing in between the two of them. “It’s either an insecticide or a coil.”
“Oh yeah? You’re the one who is always disrupting our lovely sleep and lives. Why, just a fortnight ago you had Abu contract the dreaded malaria. And had it not been for the timely intervention of the public health nurse he would probably have died from a high fever.”
“Oh yeah, well he should have known better than to sleep without a net or repellent.” Mosquito shot back.
“Oh, look who is talking” Memuna replied, “I thought you needed to survive. You feed on our blood don’t you?”
“There; stereotyping as usual,” mosquito replied, stretching out his tiny palms face forward as if to prove how pathetic the twins’ narrow minded views were. “You poor humans. You draw hasty conclusions yet you hate to be judged wrongly. If you must know, not all mosquitoes eat blood. In fact most species of mosquitoes do not feed on blood and out of the number that do, many do not even pass on disease causing germs. And look here, I’m not even a girl so you have really no reason to discriminate against me.”
“Ha!” Meeli smirked . “A male mosquito.” “What difference does your gender make to us? You are the one who sounds prejudiced and feels superior about your sex.”
Mosquito stuck out his stringy tongue at her. “It’s only females who suck blood duh!” He blurted. “One thing you humans are probably right about in your culture: It’s a man’s world for you. On the contrary, in my world the women feel and are treated more importantly.We males actually envy them. But since no one can make you feel any less worthy than you are without your consent we pretty much don’t have a gender debate in my world.”
“That sounds super cool, does that mean you don’t have any Musas?” Meeli wondered out loud? “Mosquito, Musa is the bully here in our zongo,” Memuna explained
“Ah, pardon my manners.” The strangely well mannered mosquito said. “I did not even introduce myself properly. My name is Mosca but I love it when I’m called Osca it sounds very much like a human name my friends go with Mos for short sometimes too.”
He fluttered around the girls looking for appropriate landing space. The girls repositioned their pillow so he settled on it; with them facing him and lying on their chests, their legs up in the air. He took an exaggerated bow or at least that is what Memuna thought. He stretched out his tiny front arm gracefully and said “Mucho gusto.”
“Oh I’m Memuna and she’s Meeli.” The younger of the twins said giggling at the introduction. “What was that you said?”
“Oh, mucho gusto is Spanish for ‘pleased to make your acquaintance’.”
“Oh so you speak Spanish as well?” Memuna thought this mosquito conversation was getting even more bizarre by the minute.
“Well, mosquito is originally a Spanish- Portuguese addition to the English language. I try to pick up a little something everywhere I go.Now my turn” he went on not wanting to be interrupted. “What is a bully?”
“Oh, a bully is someone who tries to lord it over you, without your consent of course,” Memuna said with a smile “and this bully can be very antagonizing to the vulnerable victim.”
“Oh like you, you know when you tried to kill me?” Osca ventured accusingly.
“You were biting my sister.”
“I so was not. I already explained I’m not a blood eater.”
“Well, you perched there for too long.”
“I was investigating you know, umm…”
Meeli’s laughter cut through the night’s silence. “Shhh” her sister warned, “you’ll wake them up.” The rest of the family stirred but didn’t wake up. “And then what? They’ll believe we were talking to a mosquito?”
“So you are saying you are not here to bite us but to just research waking us up by whizzing past our ears in that shrill whiny way of yours right?” Memuna asked with sarcasm tainting her words.
“Wrong interpretation; I’m a house mosquito” he said. “You girls should probably come with me this afternoon, I’ll open your eyes to a world that’s begging for your attention but which you are constantly ignoring.”
“This afternoon,” Memuna yawned and looked outside.
Day was already starting to break and she had barely gotten any sleep. Beside her, Meeli had already been lulled to sleep by the intermittent buzz of Osca’s wings, a familiar sound to her now.
“Ok” she sighed giving in to his invitation.
Then I’ll know for sure this has not been a dream, she thought quietly to herself. Besides who could ever say no to a talking mosquito?
“Mucho gusto” she smiled at Osca as she finally surrendered herself to sleep.
One could never cheat nature could they?
By Adobea Nii Owoo
Email: [email protected]