3 am and I slapped myself in the face for second time. I pulled the covers up and around me and directed all my energy to my ears so they could pierce the darkness and identify the location of the culprit which had inflicted my self-harm. Nothing. Not even my imagination could conjure up a distant buzzing that would indicate that a mosquito, that still harbored designs on my blood, was lurking in the room. I had began to drift back to the peace of sleep when it landed on my ear. The droning buzzing enraged me. I tried to free my arms from the duvet as quickly as possible and began beating my ear with the knowledge that the assailant had long since buzzed off. Why did it have to land on the ear? I could have happily carried on with my slumber had it concentrated its efforts on my one exposed foot, but no, it had to ensure maximum dissatisfaction for its victim.
There is an old wives tale from Nigeria which explains it. Mosquito, they say, had asked Ear to marry him, whereupon Ear fell on the floor in uncontrollable laughter.
‘How much longer do you think you will live?’ she asked. ‘You are already a skeleton.’
Mosquito went away humiliated, and any time he passed her way he told Ear that he was still alive.