David Njuguna

© Copyright 2018 by David Njuguna

Photo of a mosuito.

Having long been plagued by the mosquitoes that reside in my backyard, I decided to write about the life of just a single one of them. I can’t be completely sure her name was Maya, but for the sake of the story, I assumed it was. Some bit and pieces might be a work of my imagination (the meeting with her suitor for example).

The gravel driveway is flanked on either side by a well manicured lawn. Bright, colorful flowers grow in brown clay pots at the front of the house, which in itself is a majestic structure of grey stone. The yard is a picture of peace and serenity. Walking in, the visitor will be awed by the towering trees that seem to stand guard over the house and by the live hedge, green and well trimmed. Birds have made their home in the trees, and their songs of joy are the only noise in this peaceful scene.

But the visitor might chance to visit the backyard, and witness a totally different scene. It is a forgotten place, growing wild with neglect. There are signs that it was once well taken care of, cracked pavement now almost overgrown with weeds, stone carvings almost covered too. They all suffer the same fate. The flowers here, having no one to take care of them have grown wild, and now fight for space with the intruders. There is a fountain standing in the middle of all this chaos. It was the star attraction once, with clear water spouting from the mouth of a leaping fish into a basin below. Now it fights a losing battle with the wildness around it. The stone fish has broken off, and lies crumbling at its base. The water in the basin is now black and smelly with algae, but it makes the perfect home for mosquitoes, with whom by now the visitor will have been acquainted.

She bent forwards then threw herself backwards. The movement, though not graceful, was strong and fluid. She pulsed through the water, heading to the bottom. This was her world. And as she swam to the bottom to wait out whatever it was this time, she could see her brothers and sisters above her, caught up in the crazy dance, all trying to get to safety. She hoped they would make it. The dark shadow cancelled all light and everything went dark. It hit the water with such violence that the resulting vibrations felt like they were splitting her into two. It lasted only for a moment, but when it was gone so were many of her brothers and sisters. She had been lucky, this time.

With her sister Lou, Maya spent her time near the surface of the water. The air was sweet and on good days, they could enjoy the sun. Here they could look at the mothers come to lay eggs and silently wonder when their turn would come. And as these adults lifted up into the sky, their tiny hearts would almost be bursting with longing. They wanted that freedom. They wanted to leave the water, go out there and live that other life. One mother must have noticed their longing looks, and she whispered to them “don’t rush to get grown, your time will come” before she let a wind carry her away.

When change came it caught her by surprise. Her skin changed four times in the space of a week, every time replaced by a fresh coat. She was growing bigger too, and watching Lou, it was easy to notice the changes that came over them. She laughed as Lou’s head became bigger, knowing the same was happening to her. They didn’t even feel the need to eat these days, and they grew lighter and lighter. They were still both good at diving to the bottom when the predators struck only now they didn’t have to swim up, their light bodies simply floated back to the top.

Maya stood on the water. She was wet, shivering and cold but she was standing on her own feet! And she had wings too! She moved them about, excited. She couldn’t wait to get up into the air. But now she waited, she had to get her strength first.

When she finally lifted into the air, the feeling of the wind beneath her almost drove her mad with ecstasy. This was what she and Lou had been dreaming about all those days, and it hadn’t disappointed. She let the wind lift her even higher, drunk on this feeling of freedom. She floated along, the new colors and scents dazzling her senses. She was in heaven.

A large shadow rose suddenly on her right and instinctively, Maya dove down to the left. The bird, quickly changed direction and followed. Maya fell into the grasses below, hoping to lose her pursuer there. The bird, seeing its dinner lost, pulled up from its dive and flew back up. There’d be an easier meal. Maya was trembling, breathed a sigh of relief. Yet again, she’d been lucky.

She was more cautious as she flew now, as she went in search of food. She had no clue of what to eat, and she didn’t feel like eating the algae she had grown so used to at the fountain. The potted flowers, still colorful and sweet smelling drew her in and putting her mouth to one, she sucked.

Tastes nice, doesn’t it?” A voice spoke from somewhere close, startling her.

Maya looked around nervously. She hadn’t spoken to anyone other than Lou for a while now and she was embarrassed.

Yes… yes…it is nice.” she stuttered, hoping she didn’t sound as nervous as she did in her mind.

He walked into view and Maya was dumbstruck. Here was someone like her, but not like her. He was big. Bigger than anyone she had ever seen at the pond. And those long legs…she tried to hide her blushes.

I saw you escape from that bird, you are good.”

A giggle escaped Maya before she could stop herself. “Thank you” Her eyes never once left the ground, only rising to glimpse at those legs every once in a blush.

You are very gifted, but maybe you shouldn’t fly into the wind. You lose control in it and can’t fly as fast. The birds can catch you then. If you stick close to the ground, you will be okay.”

Maya, once brave and outspoken, found she could only mumble her appreciation. Where had her words gone? It didn’t matter though; she found she could listen to him all day.

They spent the day together exploring the compound, and when she flew off at night to find more food, she carried some of him in her.

But she was restless. She needed food but nothing tasted right. Even the juice from the mangoes did nothing for her hunger. Something was missing, and Maya didn’t know what it was. She flew about, hoping to forget that she was hungry; maybe she might even get tired and go to sleep. She flew right into it. The best smell she had ever encountered. It crawled up inside her and wrapped itself around her. It grabbed and dragged her, and she let it lead her, a willing slave to this most glorious of scents.

The dog was asleep and never felt a thing but for Maya it was the buffet of her life. The warm blood flowing into her, Maya felt, was liquid life flowing into her. She drank and drank until she couldn’t take anymore. When she lifted heavily into the air and flew home to the basin in the back, she promised herself she would be back for more.

Back at home, it was like she was young again. Nothing had changed. She was even with Lou again, on the water rather than in it, talking and catching up on everything that had happened to them on their adventures; they even flew from the birds together. It sure felt good to be home again.

Seated on the surface of the water, Maya lay her clutch of eggs. Soon they would make a new family of wrigglers. Below her, she watched as another group of wrigglers nudged and whispered to each other, their gaze on her. They had a longing look about them as the dark clutch around her grew bigger and bigger. She had to smile, they reminded her of and Lou and her all those ages ago. Maybe there was a Maya and Lou somewhere in there too. Before she flew off into the night, she smiled at them and whispered, ‘be patient, your time will come.’

When the deep hunger came to her again that night she was ready. She knew where her next meal would be and she knew to go after it. In the dark she was invisible. She would hide in the cloak of darkness and her victim would never see her coming.

The dog slept by the front door, oblivious to the hunter stalking in the shadows. She took her time, settling on the wall to plan her attack. Seeing that the dog slept on, she went in. But as she got close though, the dog got up, shook itself and ran off into the darkness. Maybe today wasn’t her day.

As she turned to head back to her eggs, she drifted right into it. The most mouthwatering aroma she’d ever encountered in her life. All her senses seemed to buzz with life as she inhaled it in. The aroma seemed to grab her and drag her toward the house and she willingly let it. She had to have it. She craved for it.

The lights in the house burned into her eyes and for the first time she was afraid. She was too visible. Finding a darker corner on a wall, she settled waiting for her chance. This was new territory, it would be wise to scout it first.

A wall gecko came at her, fast. She hadn’t even been aware of its presence and had she not been as agile, she’d have been caught up in those terrible jaws. She drifted up to the brightly lit ceiling wondering if she shouldn’t go home. She’d made too many mistakes today already and another could be costly. If she went home now she could have fruit juice or nectar tomorrow and wait for the dog. Maybe she would.

The lights went out just as she prepared to head off and when the familiar darkness enveloped her she couldn’t help but laugh at her previous worries. She forgot her fears and greeted it like the good friend it was. She went in for the kill.

As the man cursed the power company for interrupting his football game, he wondered if he shouldn’t light a candle. But there hadn’t been a blackout in a long time, maybe the power might be back in minutes. He went back to his mobile phone and he waited. He’d follow the score from there.

With the darkness came the mosquitoes and their incessant buzzing. He hated them. Couldn’t they feed without all that noise? The light of his mobile phone illuminated one right above his arm hovering, definitely preparing to bite. He slowly put down his phone on the table and opened his hands to swat the pest.

Maya saw the dark shadows coming fast toward her. Instinctively she dove to the right and hoped for the best.

David Njuguna is not a writer, but likes the thought of being one. He is Kenyan and does not get along with mosquitoes.

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