this was how we went to sleep at my grandmother's house:

the apartment had two bedrooms, but we all piled into hers; mats rolled across the floor, windows were tightly shut, lights extinguished. for fifteen minutes, the air conditioning was run at its highest setting, circulating incense. the incense was a hot plate that had a small slot for a piece of felt soaked with mosquito repellent. the room needed to sit with incense and air conditioning without us, while we stayed in the moist living room in our underwear, waiting.

in my later life, this memory feels like banishing spirits. we'd enter the room after the prescribed purification time was over, my cousin and my grandmother and i all slipping through the narrowly opened door in one quick motion. i was armed with the electric mosquito racket, because my job was to kill any remaining insect that didn't faint in the sticky fumes.

some of the bigger mosquitoes spanned multiple cables on the racket, and i could hold the buzzer until they ruptured, spraying a mouthful of blood into the air. the blood was probably mine, or my kid cousin's.

we kept a chamber pot in the bedroom, because once we had sealed ourselves in, the door was not to be opened until morning. i only remember needing to use it two or three times during that entire summer, because i'd try to use the toilet before starting our bedroom-sealing rituals. it didn't matter for the smell, though; usually, someone else in the room would fill it in the night.

26 March 2018 22:28

  Commons License this work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. for more details, please see my license information.