ENCOUNTER WITH A SNAKE
A snake appeared in my kitchen garden,
Black shining existence, sparingly spotted with
My family raised an alarm,
Curtailing my silent appreciation of it.
Neighbours came in droves,
Each one with a guess,
About its deadly poison,
Each face, full of concentration.
Some folded their hands,
In reverence, for this deity,
Others offered it milk,
In small saucers.
And the snake,
Totally unmindful of this attention,
Crawled half its body length,
In a nearby thicket, bordering the verandah.
Caution appeared on many faces,
Don’t let it vanish, they said,
It can be a danger,
Especially for small children.
Some iron rods were arranged,
Just in case, it moved in the house,
I told them, it was non-poisonous,
One never knows, they said.
It lay there, protected,
Throw milk mixed with water on it,
It will retrace its path, someone said,
I was in no mood to laugh.
Milky water only agitated it,
It started to move inside,
Three hunks came forward,
Iron rods in their hands, pride on their faces.
A rain of hit and miss blows,
A terrible wriggling,
Taints of red on the marble,
And it was over.
A wizened woman advised,
Throw the body only in the river,
It will be delivered of all its sins,
I wept deep inside.
I spotted a cow on the roadside, munching domestic
refuse with intent
Huge mass of flesh, limping its way ahead.
Its leg broken
The cleavage visible even from outside the thick skin.
It flaunted marks of different colours
A ritual of cow worship.
After all cows are regarded as mothers in IndiaLeft to
die on roads, once devoid of milk.
Its movement still had grace, like a ship
Even though the hind left leg
Bowed in the middle
When it bore the tremendous weight.
Its face shorn of any pain
Took a sudden dip whenever it encountered a rut in the
This creature has great perseverance, I thought
Or it lacks certain pain receptors, I grew skeptic.
Nonetheless, I was a partner in its pain
I followed it until it halted
Near a congested group of crude shacks.
The sun leaned its head against a bower of eucalyptus
My curiosity made me unaware of the waning day.
(my home was far away)
I enquired a passerby
Does this cow belong to this place?
Yes, came the swift reply
These people own her.
“Her” brought the cow even closer to my heart
Is she unable to produce milk I asked?
No, they are unable to feed her
He had unearthed the secret in my question.
Some grass is no big deal, came my retort
Death is rampant in this hamlet, malnutrition the main
culprit, he shot.
All my passion died a premature death
Starved faces blurred my eyes.
I suddenly remembered the day was dead
Time to go to my family.