A few days ago, after having a very hectic day, I had planned to sleep early. But, alas, as they say, Man proposes and God disposes. This adage was totally applicable on that particular day. I had a couple of errands to run, which took some time, and by the time I got in to bed I was so tired that I did not switch on the mosquito repellant.

In the other room my mother was watching some talk show on TV and I could hear a politician whining about “dhandali”, and another was harping over “democracy”; and the anchor, not one to be left behind, was adding fuel to fire, instead of talking logically. The last words I heard were: “democracy is the only solution for Pakistan”. After that I entered my dreamland.

As summers are starting in a slow swing, we have mosquitoes visiting us in the evening and spending the night in our house - and boy are they some ill-mannered little pests! You play “tennis” with them, hide and seek, turn the fan on or throw Mortein barbs at them - but they won’t spare you. You must deal with their tantrums.

During the night, I heard them buzzing in my ear (even though they were irritating) - they were talking.  Yes, I heard them talk! Soon I realized that they had names too: “Immu”, “Alfu”, “Bhubu”, “Nazu” and “Fazu”. Each one had a story of their own - and none of them was ready to listen to the other.

Immu buzzed: “I am working for change, so let me munch on that ear.” But Nazu was not ready to compromise: “I am elder than you and you should respect me. I will not let you take even a tiny crumb off my platter.” All of a sudden Fazu started whining in my ear, “According to clause 73 of the Mosquito Creed we blood suckers own everything; stop buzzing she will wake up.”

Alfu could not stay out of the discussion much longer and said, “Hey will you guys listen to me, I’ve travelled a long way so I am the rightful owner of this ear,  and I deserve to be listened. Don’t wake her up otherwise she will ring the death bell.”

Bhubu was listening to all of this patiently and said, “I am the eldest amongst you all, listen to me now, we can take tiny bites of each and every dish. There is enough for all of us, we don’t have to fight.”

The night had almost passed but they would not stop. I woke up around day break and almost sleep walked to the switch board where the mosquito repellant was plugged in and switched it on.  As soon as I hit the pillow I heard Nazu say, “My death bell has rung.”  Immu tried to pacify him by saying, “No this is no death bell she has just turned on the perfume spray.” Fazu laughed out loud and said, “You are fools, this death bell is like the Army. We better get out of here; I can see Mosquito Killer Chief coming towards me. He hates me and my made up beliefs.” Bhubu, who was always the last one to speak, said, “We will come back - we will never die - kal bhi Bhubu zinda tha, aaj bhi Bhubu zinda hai! (Bhubu was alive yesterday, Bhubu lives today, too!)”

The next morning I woke up thinking, “Was that just a dream, or…?”