also, bats = bugs**

I was all set to write a nice long description of my four days in Nikaweratiya, and how great it was, when a giant bat with foot-long venom-dripping fangs flew into the house and chased me, shrieking, from the computer…

Not really. It was a small bat, wingspan of about 7” and body the size of a gerbil. It was flying around and around, dizzifyingly, in the living room. I did shriek, just a little. I have this involuntary mini-screamy-whimper that I do when a big bug or a bat or whatever scares me—not just any bug, mind you, but something really surprising, like a cockroach jumping into my face from my toiletry travel-bag. That happens a lot, because it hangs on the bathroom wall. The noise I make is funny even to me, because it’s not intentional.

In any case, the bat made me do it. I ducked and ran for the door, opened it, opened all the windows, slammed my hand in the windowframe in process (ow!) and generally prayed hysterically for it to go. I’m not particularly scared of bats, but they should be out, not in. Then I got the broom and sort of waved it at the bat, trying to coax it towards the window/door side of the room, getting very hyped up on adrenaline the while… then I accidentally hit the bat. It plummeted to the floor like a foul ball.

Oh no! It wasn’t moving. Wanting to get it out of the house (lest it jump into my face, and prompt more whisper-screaming) I swept it gently out the door and into the yard but I am afraid I may have killed it. Softie that I am, I spent several minutes crying and whispering, I’m sorry, little bat, I'm so sorry. I feel so terrible about this. I kill bugs all the time but a bat, no, I like bats (just not in the house) and it was a small cute furry thing. It’s just awful.

After mourning a few minutes I closed up the door and windows, and went into the kitchen to wash dishes. A few minutes later I heard leathery wings and concentric circles afoot… there was another bat. I ran over, reopened the windows and everything, and retreated to the kitchen, my heart in my throat, fearing that were I to take decisive action another bat’s soul would be on my conscience. I turned off the lights too. It went. I breathed a sigh of relief, and another sigh of regret that I’d so rashly taken broom in hand against the first one.

Then another bat came in. I repeated the ignore-cure and it worked. Closed up shop again, sat down at the computer, and heard a little rustle and a squeak—Bat Menace #4! Another scream, as this one was lying on the floor right next to the table leg by the power-cord mess of the computer. I was calmer now (having expelled enough winged fruitsuckers to feel like an old hand) and got it into a box and took it outside and just tipped the box on its side. #4 was screaming its batty little lungs out but I don’t think I hurt it.

Then I seriously battened (no pun intended) down the hatches, closing all the windows that don’t have screens. I noticed that there was a bat clinging to the porch wall outside so must be some kind of batfest on tonight. Maybe our banana tree is having a dinner party and some diners were intrigued by the smell of spices frying for my supper-soup… which I mention not because I’m going to go off on cooking again, but because I’ve got this headcold which prevents me from properly tasting things. I made a brothy noodle soup with literally two whole onions (they’re small) and four cloves of garlic and two inches of lemongrass and half an inch of ginger and a sprig of curryleaves and a tablespoon of rasam paste and the thing didn’t taste strong at all. We’re talking about two cups of soup here. It’s amazing, and unpleasant. I hope the cold goes away.

In happier neighboring-fauna news, there are sunbirds nesting in a cozy roofed-lined-thatched nest outside my front door. Their babies hatched about ten days ago and are now feathery and fat and big enough to go cheep-cheep all day, very sweetly and cutely.

Nikaweratiya and Alut Auruddak (new year) writing soon.

*Hunter S. Thompson, may he rest in peace
**Bill Waterston, in Calvin’s great bit on how to write a project report ("use a cover. that’s a tip, kids, write it down.")

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