While my brother felt dizzy, my grandparents quickly rushed to us and my grandfather tied a rope tightly on my brother’s thighs. He said if the snake was poisonous, the rope would check the spread of the poison, above the knees. Meanwhile, to my bigger shock, he took a lantern and rushed right to the bushes where the snake had slithered to. He returned soon and declared confidently and dismissively that the snake wasn’t venomous and my brother would soon be all right. Sure enough, everyone took it as a gospel truth and we slept peacefully that night. But not me! I tossed about and stole an occasional glance at my brother who slept next to me. I wanted to make sure he was alive. I asked my grandpa the next day what if the snake was poisonous. He raised his hands upwards and wobbled his head, “God takes care; it’s His desire.”
Once a baby cobra had entered the house and my grandfather gently pushed it into a cloth bag and released it at a nearby snake zone- naga bana- a place where the God of snakes, Vasuki is worshipped. Each village has a naga bana and it’s like the designated colony for the snakes.
Back to the present, I thought of my worry tonight- will I see the snake again?
Just then my phone rang and a friend called to say an acquaintance had met with a fatal road accident. We expressed grief and consoled the family. As I retired for the night, I wondered how many people die in road accidents in India. I have hardly heard of people die of snake bite but so often I see and hear that a truck smashed a bike or a car mauled a pedestrian. Yet, I never fear crossing the street with my headphones on or as I am checking my whatsapp status, I nonchalantly hop across the road. It’s incredible how we don’t fear the terrible air we breathe but are afraid of harmless creatures. Our fears have been determined by the media- we got our priorities wrong. We fear to extend a helping hand to strangers but foolishly allow our own to cheat us. We sermon others on environmental responsibilities but buy a plastic water bottle at a jiffy, and don’t even know what we are doing. We see bold letters on a cigarette pack announcing it’s dangerous to health, still we smoke without cares. We know truth and integrity are principles that’d nourish us, nevertheless we betray them at the drop of a hat.
Somewhere we lost our way. We have come to believe our friends as our enemies and have begun to embrace our foes- Stockholm syndrome at its best!