I grew up in a small village in Kerala and saw snakes every day. When going to school we saw pythons hanging on the fences and were not scared. If however a snake entered the house then there was mayhem. One forgot the fact that the snake was a divine figure to be worshipped. If the snake escaped then it got away alive. More often it was beaten to death.
She went and rounded up a few of our neighbour’s watchmen and gardeners who came with sticks to beat the snake. They went to the bathroom, closed the door, and started chasing the snake. The snake was too clever.It decided that attack was the best form of defense, raised its head and made a fast feint at all of them. When they fell back it made a bee line for the drain and promptly disappeared into it leaving its attackers confused and angered.
Ratna told us that even with urbanisation the number of snake encounters have not come down. He makes his living by catching snakes. In our own area he has got quite a few in the past months. Snakes are gentle creatures if left alone. He gave a list of distinguished neighbours whose houses were visited by snakes. Ratna’s knowledge and love of snakes came through his talk. Ratna said that snakes usually went out the same way they came in. Pouring hot water would make the snake back track the way he came and he would catch it at the garage drain.
Every one else including the neighbours congregated in the garage to see Ratna catch the snake as it came out. Vasanta and I missed the fun. As I was pouring the hot water there was a shout and we ran out to see Ratna holding a long black wriggling snake by the neck. Then he started moving the snake up and down to calm it. Once it relaxed it would not bite. The snake was about four feet long and was very poisonous according to Ratna. He called it “Karai Katta Nagam”. He put the snake into a bag and tied up the bag. I asked him what he would do with the snake. He said it would let off in the snake farm. The hot weather and the construction activity near about made the snakes move to cooler places. It must have got into an open drain and worked its way to the bathroom. After a hot cup of cha and some snacks Ratna bid us goodbye. We gave him a good bonus and our heartfelt thanks. We were relieved that we were able to manage things without the snake being beaten to death. We knew that the next time we had a snake we could handle it like professionals.