Our White Mosquito Net Palace
Reader's Digest India|November 2020
A loving tribute to our protector against all things that buzz, bite and bother
Indu Balachandran

EVERY HOUSEHOLD I KNEW had one—a great, big, family-sized mosquito net. It was among the classic symbols of middle-class necessities in our ’60s childhood—a purchase as basic as the pressure cooker, the Godrej steel almirah and Pond’s talcum powder. This 12x12 feet gossamer nylon curtain was our ‘fortress of protection’, preventing us from waking up with red pockmarked faces the morning after, which even Pond’s would not hide.

Growing up in Bangalore, it was with a certain smugness that we regarded our city’s weather. The envy of the rest of India! Well, at least it was for my Madras cousins, who landed up every sweltering summer holiday, thrilled to be shivering on a May morning. But the sound of clapping as evening approached wasn’t applause for our climate—it was my cousins’ barehanded murder-spree among the swarms of singing mosquitoes that Bangalore was also famous for.

Mothers would scream as we left the doors wide open on our way to play in the streets after our evening tiffin and Ovaltine, rushing to shut the windows before 6 p.m. Usually, even this was too late and the stealthy marauders would have already snuck in, lying in wait to make a meal of us when we returned from play to enjoy our own pre-dinner snack.

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