I woke up underneath a mosquito net. This was surprising, as it was not there when I had gone to bed, but my lovely Grandmother had lovingly tucked that 26 year old mosquito net into the corners of the bed, as I slept, on a well-worn mattress that once belonged to her. My grandparents have been recyclying things long before it was a ‘thing.’
Despite my grandmother’s best efforts at mending holes in that mosquito net, there were approximately 3 small holes in that net, which served as an entrance for any industrious mosquitoes, who would subsequently feast on my American blood. And they did. Truth be told, there is nothing more annoying than a mosquito buzzing in your ear-nature’s wake up call for sure.
I woke up with sweat already collecting on my upper lip and at my temples and forehead. Although my grandmother would probably call it ‘perspiration’ and not ‘sweat.’ All the windows were already open in the house as they ushered in hot air. Also, an antiquated fan whirled noisly a few feet away from me. Despite this, it was still bloody hot. Of course it was, this place was hot, as the equator ran seamlessly and invisibly beneath this South American country, with its Caribbean heritage. Due to its current location, this place had 2 seasons only. Rainy season and hotter than hell season. But to me, both seasons were as hot as the earth’s core.
I could hear the radio on in the front room. It was loud. Too loud for my liking. Although my grandmother would have referred to it as a ‘wireless’ and not ‘radio.’I sat up and moved the mosquito net to one side, I did it as though I was pulling back a curtain or unveiling a plaque. I did it very carefully, after all, this mosquito net was 26 years old. I then planted my feet on the highly polished wooden floor beneath me and out of the corner of my eye saw a tiny lizard dart nervously into a crevice, that I had not even noticed before. Before he left, he eyed me suspiciously and his eye was similar to a perfectly round orb, on wheels. I closed my eyes and opened my mouth in mock horror at this tiny creature-who while harmless, was pretty disgusting (to me, anyway). I mused that this tiny creature had the audacity to judge me, this early in the morning. I looked towards the open window and could hear a cockerel, again, nature’s wake up call. I could also hear a cow baying or rather, bellowing, rather impatiently. What do cows even do all day?
At that moment, my grandfather popped his head into my room. He smiled and rubbed his day old stubble with 4 fingers, while his thumb rested on his neck. My grandfather then said, ‘Good morning! I came in to check on you to see if you were still breathing. I nearly called the district nurse and I was going to tell her to bring some smelling salts along with a cannister of oxygen…as you were so deep in slumber …and you were not moving.” I looked at my grandfather, rolled my eyes and smiled back at him. I looked at the clock which said 7am- but you see, my grandfather wakes up at 4am and so, 7am is like noon to him. I smiled again at my apparent laziness and responded, “Morning Grandad, no need to worry. As you can see I am alive.” Just.
We both exchaged smiles and he trotted off to read his morning paper in his favourite chair. I found my way into the kitchen where my grandmother was making my breakfast. I planted a kiss on the side of her face. She smiled as the hot oil she was using to fry the yellow plantain for my breakfast, spit back at her. “Good morning, Sam. I am glad you decided to wake up. Your grandfather was worried.” I smiled, rolled my eyes and languidly placed my arm around her shoulder, with my elbow forming an imperfect ‘V’. I looked around the kitchen and was amazed that this place was already so hot at 7am.