Room with a view

I had asked for a nice room with a view, which is what I got but not in the way I had expected. The view was an enormous tree, close to my window. At first I was annoyed because it was actually blocking my view, until I noticed movement. On closer look the tree was full of bats. These are, I believe, the fruit bats. They used to live all over Plateau in the tall trees that used to stand everywhere. They would leave their guano on the cars of all the people that work here, until someone in the government thought it was best to cut the trees. But clearly this tree was spared and some of the homeless bats moved in.

It is like a nightmare to peek between the leaves and see fat bodies wriggling while hanging down. They wriggle to get as much shade as possible. I see large bats the size of kittens and their offspring, the size of hamsters and mice.

And then, as if by order from above, they swarm, even though it is not yet dark, about an hour before sunset. They rise from the tree, circle it, thousands of them, looking like a swarm of birds, and then, as quickly as they appear they are gone, God knows where, to catch their daily meal.

I remember watching these bats from the terrace of the Grand Hotel in Niamey decades ago. I realized this was a ritual that was eons old. No hacking of trees could stop it. I am sure people have even used chemicals. They are a sturdy lot and their offspring will go on living in trees and hunting at night, long after we are gone.

And so, I had been given after all, a room with a view.

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