Sleepless in San Antonio
By Rafiq Ebrahim Valjee
Winfield IL


Fools rush in where angels fear to tread. I guess I am one of those fools, always eager to land in places without giving a thought and then suffering the consequences. The planned visit to San Antonio for a few days didn’t seem to have any inkling of suffering, and instead promised a few days of enjoyment in the sunny weather. Little did I know that three of the master snorers of the century will be sleeping with me in the same room.

After attending the marriage ceremony of my nephew in Houston, some of us – or rather a whole lot of us, including my two nieces, their husbands and babies, my brother-in-law and his family and my family – decided to go to San Antonio for three nights. In five minutes the younger of the two nieces booked a twelve-sitter van and two rooms in a luxury hotel on the Internet. So off we started.

It was evening when we arrived in San Antonio, and after a brief walk on the River Walk, dinner and a nice cup of tea we called it a day and prepared to go to bed. All the females and babies were assigned one room and the males took another. There were four beds in each room, and my bed was in the center. The nieces’ husbands and my brother-in-law occupied the other beds in the room. After a tiring day in the Texas heat I was looking forward to a restful sleep – without any frightening or unreasonable dream of which I recently had plenty.

Tucked under a soft quilt, I closed my eyes peacefully and was about to sleep when a sharp whistle of a locomotive made me start. It was one of my nieces’ husbands snoring. A few minutes later, another whistle blew; the younger one joined him. Making an effort to ignore the noise, I turned on my side and closed my eyes. Some minutes later, I heard a loud roar, as if a bear was in distress. This time it was my aged brother-in-law snoring uninhibitedly. Soon the whole room was a concert, producing unharmonious sound. I thought it would end soon, but it was just a wishful thinking. The combined snoring lasted till the first rays of sun hit the window of the room. I had no choice but to get up and go for an early cup of tea in the kitchen, with a resolve to visit a pharmacy that day for some anti-snoring medicine.

At breakfast I related the happenings of the night and every one burst into laughter, delighted at my plight. My younger niece laughed so loudly that her belly ached. I was later informed that snoring was a regular phenomenon in their household.

On our way to the Alamo Museum, I stopped at a pharmacy, went in and asked the pharmacist for some anti-snoring stuff. He picked out a bottle of nasal spray from the shelf and said, “This will surely work. My old dad used to snore so loudly that people living in the apartment next to ours lodged a complaint with the management of the housing complex, maintaining that there was some animal being tortured in our flat. With this spray his snoring stopped.” I bought the bottle.

The visit to the Museum and then to the Japanese Sunken Gardens was a delight, but the joy was somewhat marred because of the heaviness of my head, needing sleep.

At night I asked the gentlemen in my room to spray the medicine in their nostrils. They readily obliged, at the same time assuring me that they would try to check their nasal outbursts. For half an hour there was silence and I was pretty sure that I would get the much-needed Nature’s sweet restorer. Then suddenly, as soothing waves of sleep were descending on me, I heard metals colliding softly in short bursts. The sound coming out of the six nostrils appeared suppressed. It came at irregular intervals. The medicine had suppressed the snoring but failed to stop it completely. As such, I had to suffer a second sleepless night.

It was no use telling others about it and spoiling their vacation. Another visit to the pharmacy was of paramount importance. This time there was a lady at the pharmacy and hearing my tale of distress, she gave me some patches to be applied on the bridge of the noses, saying that these patches would definitely work. She told me about her mother and how the little babies in the next room used to cry when her mother snored. I bought the patches and desperately wished that they would do the job.

I dragged my feet along with the others on the River Walk, barely able to enjoy the sight; my eyes half shut and unable to focus properly due to lack of sleep.

To my despair, the patches didn’t work. All they did was to add laughter to the snoring.

The three guys snored throughout the night at intervals of one hour, and when they snored they produced a sound like a snake hissing. On their faces I could see signs of laughter. It was my third sleepless night in San Antonio, and I could very well imagine the mental state of a medical intern after doing a stint of thirty-six hours at a hospital. Don’t blame him if he gives an enema instead of inserting a breathing tube down the throat.

The morning was a grey one for me. My brain had almost stopped working. I didn’t go out with the others, saying that I badly needed some rest. Luckily, I managed to get sleep for an hour or so. That cleared my mind and restored sanity to think of a workable solution to this problem. One more night in that room with those snoring relatives would be hell! Suddenly, I remembered my old college sports coach Ustad Bilgrami, who was more of a mentor and a guide to us than just a coach. He used to solve all our emotional and other problems in a jiffy. I remembered once he had prescribed garlic to one of his students who complained of her husband disturbing the neighborhood with his loud bouts of snoring. Yes, I was going to follow his directions for using the herb that night.

I went out and to a nearby grocery store and bought some garlic cloves and small Ziploc bags. That night, our last night in San Antonio, I peeled the cloves, sliced them and put them in three small bags with holes in them to let the smell come out.

I waited till the guys fell asleep, then as soon as I heard the first murmurs of devastating snoring I put the bags by the pillows of the three sleeping snorers. The room was now filled with the pungent smell of garlic, something that didn’t bother me much, but put an end to the snoring. At last, I was able to sleep peacefully for the whole night.


In the morning the guys emitted the odor of garlic and everyone was wondering from where this obnoxious smell was coming. The riddle was never solved, because I had removed the bags containing the herb and thrown them into the trash can outside the hotel lobby before the others woke up.



Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
2004 . All Rights Reserved.