By Rupinder Brar
I have been found slapping myself and clapping in air while in conversation with friends and family on video calls. They really thought covid blues had made me bonkers. And then to my “good” luck the news item in the Delhi edition of a newspaper on 7th of April 2021 came to my rescue. It referred to a survey done by the South Delhi Municipal Corporation which found that this year there was an abnormally high density of mosquitoes in Delhi. My perception of being sane was restored and along with that my self-respect.
The slapping, clapping and bloodbath continues. You all perhaps know the mundane explanations of the bad boys of municipal authorities not doing fogging, early onset of high temperatures, the cleaners being away because of COVID, the peri-domestic containers as being 38% of breeding sites and so on. But all that is every year. There has to be more to it than meets the eye ..oops the skin in this case.
Discussions galore. Mrs S called and said “ Do you know that bat sales have increased exponentially.” Now for the uninitiated the “bat” here is not the Tendulkar willow to loft Waqar Yunus with, but the very plasticky badminton racquet looking, cheap aluminium wire bat which uses minor voltage to stun the little rascals. “Yes. Indeed they have. I have five at home.” I replied. “Bat companies have made sure the mosquito colonies breed.” Finding me silent, she thought I am concurring and went on. “People are saying there is corporate conspiracy.” Now this got me interested. “How Mrs S?”
She went on in a hush tone “You know what the bat is made of. Low density polyethylene, which in turn can of course be obtained from renewable sources but it is mainly obtained from petroleum or natural gas.” I could sense the voice modulation as she moved from a hush hush conjecture, to a hypothesis and then onto a theory. The best was yet to come.
“You can see for sure how profits are eventually being made by whom. Mosquitoes are just a medium. Who thinks of our blood. The bat sales are all that matter.”
I excused myself with some muttering that the onions in the pan were burning more than the caramel brown and put the phone down. The bats were staring at me, laughing at how I had been fooled in to corporate plunder. Suddenly the little mozzie appeared a tool and not the perpetrator of crime. And so I thought I am not going to kill them. Poor fellas were just pawns themselves.
I had to find a more benign way to guard myself. And so arrived the very diluted prallethrin and picaridin based liquid repellents, coils, natural ingredient based agarbatti giving the lemony aroma of citronella and gels and creams we all have used in childhood while sleeping on terraces. Finally one could sit for dinner with friends without the “ thrrriickk” sound of a mozzie felled by the bat and peace prevailed. Short-lived alas.
Mr M said he was armed with data that suggested that “the enemy” had made sure that we all take in the fumes of the coils. “The coils have an artificial aroma of citronella so do not think natural and organic.” He went on knowledgeably. “Do you see how the mosquitoes have been drugged and they are clinging lifelessly to the ceiling and the walls. It is top secret and so I cannot divulge more. But believe me I know what I am saying. We know the history and learnings from opium wars. Its just become more subtle. Its a conspiracy to dull our whole generation. Cabbagi-sation. ” He said with a smug look and happily went on to gorge on the kebabs and whisky. And poor cabbage, I thought, with all its Vitamin C junky-ed.
“Every form of addiction is bad, no matter if it is alcohol, morphine or idealism” – Carl Jung
Goodbye for now, I’m back to slapping and clapping. Pataaakkkk goes the mozzie.
(The blog has been inspired by Mosquito Gambit. Article in an Indian Newspaper on May 30, 2021. Nepomniachtchi, the Russian chess player lost his round …to the mosquitoes)
Mozzie is the Australian and New Zealand slang for mosquito. ( The author is Additional Director General at Ministry of Tourism , Govt of India.
Rupinder Brar is 1990 batch Income Tax officer of Indian Revenue Service)