I Smell Rat
By Subba Rao
“I smell rat,” hissed Sarpa, a six foot long male black cobra.
“Sure, you are always smelling food,” hissed back Nagin, the female cobra with her fangs completely rolled out sniffing for a big fat mouse to eat.”
“No, I don’t mean a real rat; it is just a people’s expression I used.”
“You were hanging around people too much.”
“You know I like this old Champa tree for its strong fragrance.”
“I too love the scent of yellow Champa flowers and so many women come here to pluck the flowers to wear it in their hair.”
“This Champa tree is here for a long time to have such a big trunk and thick branches.”
“Well, the Champa tree attracts snakes and women for its fragrant flowers but these days it is attracting unsavory men realizing the value of timber given the size of its trunk.”
“What they can do with the trunk and the branches?”
“The Champa wood makes good furniture and the tree trunk is so long and wide in girth, it can provide lot of lumber to make expensive furniture.”
”OK, but how can they get the lumber from a live tree?”
“They will cut it down in secret to claim the lumber.”
“Can we stop it?”
“People are scared of snakes; particularly we the cobras, they fear, respect and even consider us as incarnation of God.”
“Sure, sighting of even tip of our tail would make them run for miles.”
“I am glad people are scared of us otherwise we get killed easy by them.”
“May be if we play right with our heads, we can save the tree.”
“The Champa tree has a small hollow at the base of the trunk which we can make it as our home; we just have to come out to at a particular time of the day, every day and dance with heads rocking sideways and fangs flicking up and down,”
“You mean we both do tango.”
“Yes; people would go crazy and become our devotees in no time; they would build a temple around the tree hollow to worship us as snake God incarnates.
“Living comfortably inside the snake temple, we dance for our worshippers feeding on various offerings from the devotees; nobody would dare cut the tree let alone touch it for fear of being cursed by snake God, thus we save the tree from the thieves.”
“The tree hollow would become ‘Snake Hollow Temple’ for people to worship snake God while we enjoy the fragrance of the Champa flowers,” Sarpa with dark black skin shining in the sunshine crawled forward making endless u shaped curves followed by his mate Nagin twisting and turning her vertebrae making funny marks on the sandy grounds towards the Champa tree hollow.
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