I woke up because there were screaming children outside my window. They weren’t screaming in pain or fear - rather in absolute delight - as if they were spending their afternoon eating watermelon on the lake in sticky-hot July. It was the kind of unadulterated delight that I knew was simultaneously being locked into their bodies and minds as a moment that would stay with them for the rest of their lives. Memories in the making.
But it was too late for this kind of delight, this kind of memory making. It was, in fact, in the middle of the night. So I wrapped a cloth around my waist and dragged my still-sleeping body out of my home to investigate.
All at once I was consumed with the sound of hundreds and hundreds of flapping wings. The compound floor was littered with sleeping goats and their sleeping kids. And right across from me shone one lone light bulb, the epicenter of the flapping. It was overwhelmed by insects larger than life - the kind you only experience in the depths of Africa. They were over-sized dragonflies. There were so many, it was almost fantastical. A black kitten sat under the bulb, looking straight into its sun, wings between its teeth.
I turned out of the compound, following the screams of laughter. It led me to the streetlamp. The streetlamp was swarmed with the over-sized dragonflies, more than your mind’s eye is picturing right now, I promise. From its source down to the circle of light it threw on the ground were a thick stream of insect. The over-sized dragonflies were swarmed with children, jumping and grabbing handfuls, shoving them into their mouths as if they were cream filled. Some had sheets that they parachuted up and down, up and down, as if they were catching miniature fish deep, deep in the sea. And the children were swarmed with their own screams of laughter.
And the sky was so dark, so black and the dragonflies were so large, and the streetlamp cast just enough light on the children to convince me I was still in my bed - actually - sleeping. Even in this strange place, these kinds of things don’t happen in the middle of the night. Only in dreams.
I woke up late this morning. I put on hot water for tea and stepped out into my compound to get a feel for the morning weather. I almost forgot about the night’s eerie dragonfly dream. Until I saw the over-sized wings that covered the ground, for as far as I could see, like powdered sugar on French toast.