dive bombers

ksssssssssht ksssssssht ksssssssht kssssssssht

ksssssssssht ksssssssht ksssssssht kssssssssht

The sprinklers are melodic and consistent, beating a rhythm and keeping time as the afternoon sun passes overhead. We’re at the field, launching bottle rockets. And we have company.

4.41 seconds

I shout to Rhino after the launch and subsequent grounding of his San Pellegrino bottle, decked out with red fin stabilizers, ballasted by four coins.

The black laces suspending the stopwatch chafe my neck as it swings, a metronome keeping time with the sprinklers. Watering the field, as it turns out, wakes up some old friends.

The mosquitoes are stirring.

Growing up on the prairies, mosquitoes were annoying, big, plentiful, relentless. But loud. And slow. We could see them coming, and we could smack ’em when we needed to.

We did a lot of smacking.

But mosquitoes in Canada are just annoying, not life-threatening. Not a vector for disease.

West African mosquitoes are cunning, sneaky. Silent darts, they dive bomb to take their gram of flesh. You never know they’re around until you feel the itch, the telltale bump. You see one bite, more follow.

I look up from rocket data and scratch my ankle without thinking.

Why didn’t we pack our bug spray

Malaria is part of life here. If you’re Ghanaian, you deal with it, you’ve probably had it. It’s treatable, not necessarily life threatening – depending on your circumstances. When you’re feeling achy, feverish, unwell, you test for it. You get treated.

But if you’re not used to it, if you haven’t grown up with it, it kicks your butt six ways from Sunday.

Hold your arm still please, sorry, this might hurt. Sorry, sorry

I recall the self-assured, quiet nurse who rechecked vitals, inserted the IV, and helped me sit up, bones creaking louder than bedsprings.

Severe Malaria came upon me quickly. It was brutal, unmerciful. Admitted to the local clinic for two nights of IV drugs and space to recover. Shakes, aches, unstoppable fatigue, a spiking temperature, cold sweats. Eating, usually a source of comfort, was temporarily forgotten.

As I lay shaking on the bed I wondered.

is this what dying feels like

you’re not dying, you just can’t think of anything fun to do

Ferris Bueller’s voice replied. Strange things happen when you’re on malaria meds. I laughed to myself, a pathetic chuckle flowering into yet more shakes.

But that was the worst day. Slowly, steadily, over a period of weeks, I recovered. To dance, to eat, and to write.

With a newfound respect for dive bombers.

Published by Radutti

Teaching in Ha Noi, screwing things up daily but surviving to write about it. ...everything's perfectly all right now. We're fine. We're all fine here now, thank you. How are you?

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  1. This is indeed a slice of life that, in Chicago, I could only read about here to know about. And you wrote it so well that I was there swapping away with you. So glad you’re recovered and blasting off rockets. Sounds fun!


  2. “We did a lot of smacking.” I enjoyed the comparison of Canada’s prairies to Ghana’s tropics. The flashback here becomes the main story as you show us how the experience you had with Malaria changed you and your perspective on enemy #1. Thank goodness, you recovered to dance, eat and write again!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow. I didn’t see this coming! You drew me in with some humor, and then bam! I didn’t expect those suckers to get you, to really get you. “We did a lot of smacking,” is my favorite line. Simple, truthful, funny. I’m glad you recovered, and I’m glad that mosquitoes don’t bit me!!

    Liked by 1 person

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