I started running like a freak, jumping here and there without ever once daring to look behind my shoulders.
In a split second thankfully I was at the threshold of the door with mom and I quickly shutting it behind.
Only when I gathered some courage did I venture into investigating via the same window with my heart crashing inside its cage.
Expecting the same cobra, I tried to focus but the scene that unfolded left us dumbfounded.
The sub uncle was right, there was a snake that resided there. But this was not a cobra, rather a red soil hued super long snake. Also there wasn’t just one snake here but it had a whole variety.
In time to come, we realised that this snake was a supersnake of the snake world and perhaps many’s worst nightmare too.
Famously known as Godhapachad (one who could beat horses! Google says Ptyas Mucosa or Ratsnake as translation) It was called so for it could outrun horses with the potential of killing them too.
Okay, one quick question.
So what could be your last resort if you want to ditch a snake?
“Duh-h! Climb the stars and reach the top floor!”
Lol, no! Not with Godhapachad! The snake would come right after, climbing stairs or boyndary walls, however it pleases.
Yo! It could climb these things!
I could only see half of it as the rest of it was still coiled beneath the tree. Even now I get severe chills at the memory.
I was shaking with fear thinking over and over again that the snake would have been there while I was flooding its home but couldn’t make out because of its colour.
Each time that I stole a glance, it gave me a panic attack.
Like the cobra, this too left for some place within minutes of arrival or shall I say, emerging from his humble abode.
“That’s it, we are leaving this place as soon as possible,” we kept saying to each other in further panic strikken state.
And so began a search for a better place. But the entire Bhopal city appeared to be a snake prone zone with a python caught from the house of the chief minister itself! Although, the colonies neighbouring our township were somewhat better.
While house hunting, things began to get a little better. But after that episode, backyard lawn was strictly prohibited for use. We cleared the front part of the house of any decorations that would help the snake in lurking or hinder our quick scanning of the place which we always did before coming out of our house. That is always a must.
After some days we got to know that a far bigger quarter had gotten alloted to us which would be safer too. But in between something else happened.
One evening I was studying outside in the veranda with a beautiful white stray cat who had become a friend and kept me company.
Little did I know that the cat would save my life.
I saw the cat acting weird, with it’s tail in the air , it’s body elongated while it constantly looked at something.
I talked to the cat (yeah, I’m weird, let’s move on!)
But the cat ignored me which was the most weird.
So I asked again.
“What are you looking at dear catty?” getting to my feet and following the direction of its eyes.
I literally screamed at the top of my voice as my eyes took in a thick cream and light green stripped snake hissing just over a little distance from where I was sitting.
But sensing my foot movements it began to move away and crawled towards the neighbours lawn.
Side tip – make them aware of your presence by thumping loudly and making your footsteps louder. That works the best and they’ll avoid coming in your direction then because who doesn’t hate humans? (King Kongs, dinosaurs, aliens, weird looking machines, vegetation, fellow humans, you name it and you’ll find a Hollywood movie on how humans made an enemy out of them!)
Also, night time is worst so, lights, thumping footsteps were always a must. We often heard the bushes rustling at night.
Anyway, back to story!
Lol that was enough motivation and so we moved to the other quarter in the same township but because of the size of the house and lawns, we hardly came across them.
But they were always around. Our gardener would randomly drop things like, “madamji, aap darr jate isliye bataya nai, samne wale lawn me snake ghoom raha tha. (There was a snake passing through your front lawn.)
Gate wale ped se saanp latak raha tha! (A snake was dangling from the tree next to your gate!)
There were some more incidents and several with many others but then I’ll have to write a book to write them all!
But the locals’ chill attitude was very astonishing.
Our domestic help would strode in through the gate and disappear somewhere adding all the more mystery to the already Khatron Ke Khiladi (Fear Factor) plot.
My mom would get anxious like,”arey I saw her coming here? Kaha gayab hojati hai ye? (Where did she go?)”
And then gradually we realised she was collecting all the raw mangoes from the back lawn and making a heap out of them in the veranda.
“Didi ghar lejayegi, sabko baategi! (Taking them home for everyone!)
But I know what you might be thinking, what was with the locals who were so casual about snakes?
“Kuch nai karega madamji, kuch nai krte ye bichare (it won’t hurt you, these poor folks are harmless!),” would be their response when you ask them.
To our utter surprise, despite Anaconda 2 movie like zone, fortunately, we hardly heard any instances of snake bites. They kept to themselves, simply passing through our lawns and sometimes entering other people’s place. (EEEEEEEEK! Happened with some! Like washroom, bedroom and courtyard – so our brains were perenially alert.)
Gradually, perhaps the locals’ casual outlook towards them somehow rubbed off on us too and we began to be at more ease in the township. Though we never even once let our guards down.
Despite everything, it reminds me of good old days. It was one of the most beautiful places I had stayed in. With so much greenery, different lakes, variety of floras and faunas and such pure air!
Early morning breeze, pollution free air, warm sun beams when I watered the plants still make me smile.
Even during peak summers, the weather used to get better towards evening with frequent showers every once in a week. I miss the place but the memory of snakes still make us shiver with fright!
Thank you so much for reading.