Wednesday, October 30, 2013

An Encounter with the King of the Reptilian World

Should we write about this? The whole of last night was spent worrying about this. Or should we leave this experience in its own happily-forgotten state? You know, the sort that goes away unobtrusively from consciousness. But when it stays with us and gets further reinforced, one thinks about offloading it somewhere.

So here it is.

We were returning from our morning walk yesterday, sweating, glad it was over. A small application on our mobile phone showed we had walked 2.5 kilometres and 3,500 steps. That will be enough for the hot morning, we decided, and descended a slight incline, a path, which led away from the mountains surrounding Artist Village. We were distracted and walking at the faster pace, now that we were done.

As we nearly finished the walk, and at the spot where the neatly-laid buildings and houses began, we moved a little to the side of the path and our eyes ran over a brown rope lying on the side. But the rope was moving, a slithery swift movement near us. The momentum had carried us past it and then we gazed back.

In one swift motion that can only be described as more than equal to a ballet dancer's it raised its hood, preparing to strike, if needed. It was a movement of warning, defensive, of preparing to defend onself, and we stared at it for a long time, transfixed by the beauty of the reptile.

Time froze.

Here's a rough sketch, since we didn't carry a camera.
Nag, cobra, moorkhan, the king of the reptilian kingdom was staring at us, as if we were the enemy, defending itself against its worst enemy. The gaze was challenging, unblinking. We were looking at a wonder of the whole animal kingdom, one that could inflict instant death. Yet, the movement, the graceful ascension on its coiled hind quarters was swift, matching the resplendency of a peacock spreading its tail. Now, we are a harmless sort who likes peace and walks away from conflict even to our own detriment, and what possible threat could it have seen in us. Yet, it was challenging us, this king of the wild, this dream of human beings, revered, respected, worshipped, and deified.

We stood there staring at certain death if we advanced, a helpless man, unarmed, looking at his worst enemy. It was only a warning and what an unspoken warning it was. Then we decided it was best to retreat, and let the king leave. We walked forward not taking our eyes off the magnificient object, and saw the hood slowly close, impercetibly, then resume its journey. We regretted not carrying our camera to picture this wonderful living being.

This happened yesterday and we can't forget it even today. The papers this day carries a story that human beings are wired to recognise a snake's presence and be alert. We certainly are. The incident left us shaking and we still remember the sight with a certain alarm.

Goodbye king! Hope we never see you again.

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