Ode to a Fallen Stalwart

Softly, silently, stealthily, does he move.

The man’s got a point to prove.

His wife thinks he’s a poltroon,

His kids call him an ultra-maroon,

But in mosquito-hunting, he’s just hitting his groove.

 

His keen eyes peering into the dark,

His every sense alert, like a shark,

He spares a glance at his family,

All scratching away sleepily,

With a heave and a sigh, he turns again to seek his mark.

 

He knows them all by name now.

Ask him, and he will tell you how.

That fat one may be Harry,

Chances are, he won’t live to marry,

Our man will kill ‘em if he has to use an arrow and bow.

 

Those bloodsuckers track with their sense of smell,

The female of the species wants him in malaria hell,

But he won’t give in.

He knows that he can win,

If only he can break their insidious spell.

 

They buzz around hither and thither,

The female carrying deadly poison with her,

She has the smelling genes, you see,

And the long, quivering antennae,

Her deadly sting can make a grown wither.

 

She always gets her man,

No matter how far or fast he ran,

She is single-minded,

Never one to be blind-sided,

She sneers at repellents and the electric fan.

 

Our hero can tell the mosquitoes by their sex,

He’ll never confuse Roxanna with a Rex,

He homes in on the girls,

Not to shower them with pearls,

But to swat them, and break their hex.

 

 

 

Lo, our man is in luck tonight.

Lured by the bedside light,

Mosquitoes swarm the bed-post,

Unaware of their lurking host,

They’re looking to take their nightly bite.

 

Craftily, our hero bides his time.

He doesn’t think killing ‘quitoes is a crime.

They suck his blood, don’t they?

Their lives are worthless anyway?

So, he he’ll exterminate them, like he would any slime.

 

As he watches, two females prepare to alight.

He gets ready, itching for the fight.

His wife is sure to adore him,

His kids will kiss him on whim,

He thinks, as he brings down the hammer with all his might.

 

But wait! Have his best-laid plan gone astray?

What hath he wrought in his haste, pray?

The blood that is spilled,

Is not from the mosquito killed,

But from his wife, a non-combatant in the fray.

 

She glares at him, homicide in her eyes,

The children squeak, like frightened mice.

He traces his steps backward,

Feeling, rightly so, awkward,

For our hero is due to be vanquished in a trice.

-Professor R Nagarajan is the Dean of International and Alumni Relations at IIT Madras. He graduated with a B.Tech in Chemical Engineering in 1981.