As the ten foot snake graciously slithered on the coconut orchard, my heart skipped a beat. But oddly, I kept looking at him (or her, I don’t know) trying to figure out if it was a poisonous Krate or an Indian Cobra or simply a venom less water snake. Not that I knew the signs to recognize different reptiles, but somehow I hoped I’d know if this one was poisonous.
I had seen him yesterday moving about in the flowing stream adjacent to our property. He was probably looking for breakfast. And now again I saw him; this time he was closer to the door of the house. I rushed down from the terrace, closed the doors and windows, and alarmed my elderly mother. She seemed indifferent- her life in this rustic setting had made her tough and fearless. But I was worried about her safety.
Later, after sunset when I returned from the market, I realized I didn’t have a torch and walking the two hundred odd steps, in darkness, from the road to the house, was scary. I hoped my snake friend would spare me his association. At night I was troubled by the mosquitoes and insects; an occasional mongoose jumped across and an odd scorpion lay a few meters away from the well. I carefully shut off the doors and ensured we were safe indoors.
As I lay on the mat on the clay floor, I wondered how our ancestors lived.
Instantly I was transported to my own life here forty years ago. I spent my first ten years with my grandparents in the village of Paniyadi, in the town of Udupi. My maternal grandfather, born in early 1900’s carried himself with a quiet grace and fortitude that is a rare sight these days. He nonchalantly moved about in the verdant fields, bushes and collected twigs or dry grass for heating water. I never saw him panic or fear animals and snakes.
To be continued….