Boys will be boys

"What's in this box?" I asked my younger son. "Shh! I'll tell you when we're by ourselves," he replied. We were at the bus stop to receive our sons who had come home from boarding school for their holidays. When the older son and my husband went to collect the luggage, the younger one said: "Ma, it's a snake."

"It's a what?" "A snake, Ma. Not a poisonous one. And it's not mine, it's Sammy's. I have to take care of it till he prepares his parents to let him keep it."

"What about us?" "Ma, you are such a sport. I knew you wouldn't mind when I explained to you." Mollified, I asked, "And what about Dad?" "You tell him. He'll understand." "But you know we are not even living in our own house. We are staying with your grandparents. There are aunts and cousins there, too. What if the snake starts slithering around the place?"

Just then, the others arrived so the topic was closed. At our destination, the "box" was kept in a "safe'' place away from prying eyes. But as I was still jittery I tackled the issue again in the privacy of our room. Now there were two to defend the offending creature.

"What does it eat? Frogs?" I had terrifying visions of frogs hopping around everywhere and the snake chasing them. Frogs are my pet peeve. "Ma, it eats only grasshoppers and we caught some and put them in the tin." "Poor grasshoppers!" When I broke the news to my husband he was unperturbed. "Boys will be boys," he chuckled. I had a disturbed night imagining the worst scenarios, but nothing untoward happened.

The next evening, however, there was 'some drama'. We were at my sister-in-law's house for tea. The tin box was with us and discreetly kept behind a flower pot by the entrance. By now, the creature was being called Sammy the Snake (instead of Sammy's snake).

Everyone was in a jovial mood after "high tea", when Sammy decided to explore his new surroundings. He was about to enter the room, when my younger son saw him - before anyone else did - and raced to the door. When Sammy came into view, all the elders smiled indulgently and one of them commented: "Little boy trying to scare people with a rubber snake."

My husband said: "It's real." "REAL?" A chorus went up as 10 pairs of feet shot off the floor and onto chairs. One teenaged cousin actually dashed out of the room, leapt over the bonnet of the car in the porch, over the low compound wall and ran! He ran all the way home four lanes away, bolted the door, got into bed and stayed there until the next morning! The party was over now. We said hasty goodbyes and left.

Sammy was back in the box with the lid tightly closed. (There were holes in it for him to breathe.) And the box was tied with string as an extra precaution to assured everyone a good night's sleep.

However, it took much explaining and some deft handling of Sammy by both my sons to convince the grandparents, aunts, cousins, and servants that Sammy was harmless and, what's more, with us for just another day. But the real Sammy couldn't convince his parents to keep a snake as a pet, so Sammy the Snake had to stay with us for longer. But things took a turn for the good with visitors now requesting to see Sammy and some even gingerly touching him.

A week later, a jubilant Sammy (friend) arrived, announcing he would take his pet home. Sighs of relief and end of story!

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