All I wanted to do was sleep. After a hard day’s work there was nothing more important for me than that and yet, it eluded me that night. There were too many mosquitoes around. I covered myself with a bed sheet and yet, they seemed to get in and bite me. The repellant seemed to have no effect on them. I don’t remember when my body grew too tired to take note of them and I fell asleep. I guess that is how we all are. We fight up to a point and after that, get used to it.
The next day, at night, I saw tiny cockroaches running across my bed. I told my colleague how I slept very badly as the cockroaches were biting me all night. She told me that cockroaches do not bite all night the way I described. “I think you have got bed bugs in your room,” she said. I wanted to dismiss her explanation, not because it was impossible to have bed bugs, but because the very thought of having bugs seemed intimidating to me. I didn’t even know what bed bugs looked like to confirm her statement.
That night when I returned from work, I saw blood stains on my bed sheet and the corners were covered with black dots and a white powdery matter. I googled the images of bed bugs and began reading about them. I looked at their images with horror and as I turned sideways, at my pillow, I confirmed that they were indeed bud bugs. I had brought a bottle of Hit and sprayed it around my mattress, knowing that the relief would be very temporary.
In the nights that followed I would wake up in the middle of night and kill the bed bugs with my bare hands. After half-an-hour of slaughter, I would wash my hands, read some book and go back to sleep. Later, I began going to bed with the lights on so that in case they bit me, I didn’t take time to locate them and kill them. I got rid of my mattress and began sleeping on a mat. My bed sheet had been smudged with the blood stains of many bugs.
I shared this tantrum story with my flat mate and he revealed that bed bugs had attacked his room as well. I remembered that a few weeks back, when I had gone out of town, he had placed his mattress in my room to get his room cleaned. The idiot was unable to solve his problem and instead passed on his sleep-killing monsters to me. Our apartment did not have an open terrace where I could dry the mattress in the sun. Over the days, as sleeping became my biggest concern, I realised that nothing in this world was more satisfying than a sound sleep. I wanted to sleep well more than anything else.
We finally asked the pest control guys to come and save us. The fellow did his job and took the payment. He stayed for a minute further scratching his head. I gave him Rs 40 extra for chai paani. He looked at the notes unconvinced; but I did not have time to convince him. I went to my room and saw it drenched in a pool of pesticide. The room looked ransacked and everything had been thrown out of place. I locked all my troubles behind the door and rushed to my office where I reached late because of this mess.
The room had to be left unused for a day, so I spent that night at a relative’s place and slept well after, what seemed to me, ages. I came next night and cleaned up my room. I washed all bed sheets and hung them dry. I opened all the windows so that the smell would go. I was glad that finally, I would be able to sleep as I did before. It had been almost ten days since this nuisance had begun. As I settled down, I was psyched to see little monsters crawling near my mat. There were more of their ilk crawling nearby. They had survived the blood bath and now, were immune to play a stronger game. I was losing mine. Bad enough that bed bugs made things tough the rising temperature made things even more difficult. In the next room, my flat mate had switched on his AC. My blood boiled at the thought of him sleeping in peace.
Two more nights, I spent without much sleep. I had to return to my hometown for a festival. My compartment in the train was cool, spacious and seemed to to be conducive for a good sleep. But I couldn’t sleep well. Even in their absence they tornmented me through nightmares. I woke up in the middle of night and was unable to sleep again. But then, I was heading home, leaving those monsters behind in Chennai.
I reached home and was happy to see familiar faces around me. I always felt that my room was the best place in the world to have a sound sleep. My mother told me that my room needed to be cleaned up a little as it was lying unused in my absence. The bed sheets had turned dirty over the last few months. I was horror-struck and couldn’t believe my eyes as I walked towards my cot. The bed sheets were stained with black dots and a white powdery matter stuck to them and on them were resting a bunch of dreaded, bloody and vengeful bed bugs.