There’s a lot about TN in summer that is intimidating. The heat will get to you, especially if you are from milder climes, and it gets drier and hotter as you go inside from the coast. And then there are mosquitoes. Larger than the usual, they debunk any theories or comparisons to scorpions or chillies. Size does matter in the proportional sense here and they let you know that. Of course it also makes them easier to swat, but they take on a whole new dimension in the dark when you are totally powerless and at their mercies!
This time, however, add to it incessant power cuts and the picture is complete. For every 2 hours of power, you get an hour of power-cut in the night. You sleep in the night with the ceiling fan swirling at full speed, as if it’s going to unscrew itself and fly off to some destination which it believes is its destiny, the air from it hitting you at full blast nailing you to the bed, and still, the moment you turn away from the direct blast the unexposed parts are drenched in sweat. It still helps you sleep and the main thing is that it keeps the mosquitoes away. Have never understood why fans work against mosquitoes, but that’s something for another day.
And then, without warning, you are woken up. Not by any sound, but the lack of it. Rather, the sound of the fan giving up all of a sudden in a final whoop before silencing itself. There is no time to prepare yourself for the hour that lies ahead! The heat hits you, the sweat glands work overtime, the hand-fan gets worked for a while, but the hands start protesting soon – they are not used to this in the middle of the night! The mosquitoes descend from their hideouts as if on cue. You can almost imagine them memorizing the power-cut schedule and dressing up and getting ready as the hour nears in common rest-rooms from an Asimovian world!
The next hour is spent in pure torture. Sleep eludes you, or so you feel – the few snatches barely go noticed. In hindsight there were a few, simply because it’s hard to imagine sitting through this every second of the hour, plus hindsight always mellows out bad experiences. (Except working in Chinese companies of course. You add to the myth and legend of bad work-environments in such cases.) The mosquitoes don’t seem to bother you as much as time goes by. You’ve either got used to them, managed to find something to keep them away or, most likely, they’ve had their fill of your blood. All they do is sing and dance by your ears. Sweat and the heat keeps the pressure on. Gusts from the hand-fan almost suffocate but are welcomed! The key is to time them well so as not to get your hands aching.
The watch thankfully continues to show time through the dark, thank God for the fluorescent/phosphorescent dials. The first half hour is generally faster. The last one is the most painful as you start counting down. But the time arrives, as it always does. The fan starts up with a squeal like an airplane engine starting a take-off at the start of the runway. The relief is palpable as everyone in the household assembled there heave a sigh of relief. The mosquitoes go back to their waiting rooms. “Two more hours”, they console themselves, “We’ll be back”.