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The Snake Affair

Updated: Feb 9

By Ramiya Gopalakrishnan


Kerala, God’s own country is also a snake’s own country. The amount of snake encounters I have had is galvanic. Snake in the well, near the well, around the well, in the post box, in the lily pond, on the steps, wound around the grill, in the gutter…… I could go on and on. This story is dedicated to two such encounters I have had in my childhood. Let's call it the snake saga!


The housing colony where I lived, still had a lot of open land ready for development. Mine was one of the very few houses in that area. The unbuilt stood tall and dominating over the built. Since it was once a farmland, the character of the place still depicted the same. During the rainy season the fields would get waterlogged, and one can see new streams of water, even alongside the roadside. This is also the time when snakes set out to hunt for frogs, and crabs which became plentiful during this time. Getting to places without jumping and hopping to stay away from the splatter was impossible, and so were snake sightings.  


Let us come to the story…


I was never good at any sport or any activity where my BPM would cross 100. The one time I attempted running, I almost fainted, falling on my knees with shivering legs. I was carried out from the ground. Little did I know, that I needed a snake encounter to overcome this.


The sky was gloomy and the rain clouds were looming on the horizon, making 6.00 pm in the evening even darker than usual. I was walking back from my tuition class. The math tuition usually made me exhausted and hungry, and all that I had in mind was the snacks I would be treated with when I reached home. While walking, the sight of tiny frogs jumping, the sound of the stream, and the chorus of crickets were my only companion. Since the background was so busy, I couldn’t prepare myself for what happened next. 



In the stretch from my tuition class to my house, there were two streams - one that went alongside the road, and one that ran across. When one reaches the latter, slowing down and jumping is a good option to avoid water splattering.  While I was preparing myself to jump the crossing, the split second, that I paused for was enough for a SNAKE!!, a water snake to jump from the stream right up to my hand. Scared of this extreme encounter, the adrenaline kicked in and I immediately started running. I RAN!! I RAN like a thunderbolt and THAT !!! my friends were a marathon-worthy run.  


This insane encounter was not the last one I have had.


It was the festival of Onam, a harvest festival celebrated by Malayalees. The atmosphere during this time of the year is always dynamic, fun, and colourful. The air is always filled with the smell of delicious food cooked in the kitchen. What made the festival oh-so-special for the kids is the Onam pookalam, a rangoli of fresh flowers, that one puts in front of their house for 10 days. The younger members of the house would wake up early in the morning and venture into their gardens, (sometimes neighbour’s too) to acquire flowers for their pookalam. 


At our household, the journey meant going into our massive backyard and racing with my sister to get the maximum number of flowers. If my memory serves me right, it was the 5th day of Onam, and there were not as many flowers on plants as the first day. This meant salvaging whatever is left even if it was out of reach. 


During our hunt for flowers, I observed that one of the plants, a hibiscus tree to be exact was completely ignored by my sister. Considering this as an opportunity I bolted towards the plant and started pulling the branches down, in an attempt to pluck the flowers at the top. This went on for a good couple of seconds until I noticed something odd on the branches. Something was patiently watching my madness; two yellow eyes staring at me from between the leaves, A SNAKE!!! Ahaetulla nasuta, also called green vine snake, or in Malayalam - Pachilapambu. 


What happened after that was a chaotic scrambling of a human child trying to get away from the danger. I dropped my basket of flowers, started yelling frantically, and fled the scene. I do not remember if I was able to get a grip on myself and put the pookalam after that experience!


By Ramiya Gopalakrishnan



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Alston Menezes
Alston Menezes
Jan 22
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Amazing!!

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arunnair3418
Jan 13
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Well written..

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Sowmya G
Sowmya G
Jan 13
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

I still remember it. Well written 🙂

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div.mallav
Jan 11
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Great narration and storytelling! Waiting for more short stories. Will read these soon to my girls too!

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vishal sondagar
vishal sondagar
Jan 11
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Well written and gripping

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