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  • Abhignan Kotih

SERPENTINE BLESSING




The Sarpanch ended his discussion with the following line- “Indeed, animals are valiant even in the toughest of times. They have saved countless lives. Now, is there anyone among us who was saved by an animal?” I thought about the cow, who gives us fresh milk every day; the horse, who helps us carry the heavy loads we can’t carry single-handedly, and the dog, who faithfully sits on our doorstep and guards our house and belongings.

My hand shot straight up into the sky, as I filled up with pride. All heads turned towards me, as the Sarpanch asked- “Friend, are you saying that your life has been saved by an animal?”

“Yes sir,” I replied. “That is true.”

“Pray, can we hear your story?”

“Absolutely, why not?”

And so I began recounting my tale.

“It was the summer of last year. I had been invited by one of my friends, who is a dealer of camels in the desert of Rajasthan, to attend his daughter’s wedding. I had been needing a change of scenery and was bored by the monotony of this village life, so I gladly accepted the invitation. On an appointed day, I embarked on the train journey to some small little town- I can’t remember its name- located right in the middle of the desert of Rajasthan. The train trip was stiff, but I was still excited for the rest of my tour. And so, after packing some food, water, and a map of the desert, I embarked on a journey across the desert on a camel drawn caravan.”

“At that time, I never knew how hot the desert would be. All the water I had carried was over by midday, and when we all alighted for our meal, I went forth to search for some water, but yet again, the scorching heat got the better of me, and after covering some distance, I fainted.”

A collective gasp went around in the group. Enthused that my story was seeming to interest the others, I continued to narrate it with newfound confidence.

“When I came back to my senses, all seemed to be just as it was before. I felt my vision going a bit hazy. I groped around, looking for a stick. With my unclear eyes, I thought I saw one and caught it in my hand. It seemed to be squirming. I blinked my eyes a few times and then my vision became clear. It wasn’t a stick that I had grabbed, it was a snake! Suffice to say that I was shocked. I flung it away and ran as fast as I could in the opposite direction. And imagine what I fell into when I was running? I fell right into the water of an oasis!”

“And so, I had found water and quenched my thirst. But then I cursed the snake. It had made me lose track of my caravan! Luckily, I was found at the oasis by a friendly group of locals, and they safely dropped me off at my friend’s house the next day.”

“When I arrived at his house, my friend was pleased to see me. He came up to me and embraced me. Then, with a dazed expression, he seemed to study me, making me feel very uncomfortable but quite happy that my friend seemed so worried about me. However, his unexpected pleasure at meeting me was a bit curious, as I had arrived at about the same time as the caravan should have, and was quite safe and sound, after all. When I asked him for the reason for this reaction, he told me, “‘Ah, you do not know, but this morning, news reached me that the caravan you were supposed to come in had been attacked by desert bandits on its way here, who killed all the travellers in it, robbed it, and ran off. I thought you had died too. It was indeed a pleasant surprise to see you here, alive.’”

“Need I say more? And so, my friends, I conclude this strange story with a note of gratitude in my heart.”

A stunned silence met this conclusion of mine, with no one able to say a word. At last, everyone in the meeting burst out laughing.


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