Monday, September 17, 2007

Nighttime Ritual

The soft glow of the moon outlined the four beds lined up like soldiers at attention as I slowly began my nighttime ritual.
First, I walked outside my house and headed to my bed, stepping through the cool sand and avoiding a few wayward bricks. I passed the large queen-sized bed that belonged to my parents, past two identical twin beds with matching pink sheets for my sisters and continued down the line until I finally reached my own wooden frame. Once there I made sure the inch-thick wooden slats were all aligned evenly to prevent uncomfortable holes from developing in the night.

I slowly unfurled my dusty, flat mattress that had been rolled like a taco all day long to prevent the harsh sun from baking the sheets all day. The mattress, with its color faded from green to white, was long overdue for a refill of cotton and was thinning badly – leaving walnut-sized lumps eager to destroy a good night’s sleep.

A quick shake of the sheets to brush off any insects and leaves that might have accumulated during daylight was followed by a swift deployment of the overhead mosquito net. Taking great care to never lift a corner of the netting once it was unfurled, I slowly tucked it in with sheets under my bed. Now my flimsy fortress was complete.

Slipping my hand under the middle edge of the bed I undid the tucked netting and slithered my body inside, as if I was sneaking under a fence. Once my torso was inside, I spun and sat on the edge of the bed with the netting secured tightly around my legs to deny access to any adventurous bug. Lifting one foot after the other, I brushed off the sand and brought each leg into the safety of my cave.

Once safely inside, I gave a quick survey of the area and pounced upon a wayward cricket that, despite my best efforts, still had managed to sneak inside my mosquito net. Once he was put in his place (on the other side of the netting) I was finally free to relax and lay my head against my board-like pillow.

Snuggling under the sheets heated from the sun and feeling the cool African breeze against my cheeks was a great feeling. As I concluded my nighttime ritual, I gave one more look up at the brilliant night sky, said a prayer, and drifted off to sleep.

For ways to help stop the violence in Darfur, click on the 20 WAYS I CAN HELP link to the right.