Ging gobra


This was when we lived in a suburban sprawl rich in flora, avifauna and fruitage. It was also a
herpetologist’s paradise. Name it, and the snake was somewhere in the area. Cobra, banded-krait, saw-scaled viper, the deadly Russell’s viper, not to forget the innocuous slitherers, the rat snake and the keelback.

When I was initiated into this setting, and I observed my mother-in-law carrying a hockey-stick on her perambulations, I presumed that she had been a sportswoman. My father-in-law guffawed, “that hockey-stick is to strike dead any cobra that dares to cross her path!”

This was far from a humourous topic for me, I always wove my way gingerly through the green tangles, my eyes glued to the road that separated the houses that were flanked and canopied by verdure.

Among kin, a few handled snakes with ease and John, my son, was taught the skill as a safety measure. On one occasion he dangled a long rope of a cobra in front of me saying that it was not justifiable that a writer tackle the subject of creepers and crawlers without close inspection.

I fled the scene screaming that writing about the wild was one thing and tactility quite another, promising loudly that I would omit the chapter on snakes if he thought I should! I don’t recall any of the anguifauna being beaten to death mercilessly except on one occasion when the gardener instantly bludgeoned a Russell’s viper before anyone could stop him.

John put the body in a bag and headed for the Bible college in the vicinity where I taught, and where he spent most evenings singing, playing his guitar and discussing wildlife. Seeing John enter with the bag, the boys rushed, and stood transfixed as he spilt the contents on the ground.

“Ah Jonne that is Ging Gobra,” the Dean remarked. “No Sir,” John politely interjected, “this is a Russell’s viper.” “In Gerala I have seen this Ging Gobra,” the Dean persisted. Pow Yo, who was mute most often, became articulate, “sir, this is not a Keeng Cobra. I know because, in my home in hill-country, my uncle soot this Russell and we eats.”

Uproarious laughter resonated, when John on returning home, narrated what had transpired, also adding, “ Ma, the comprehension exercises from Corbett, and Durrell, you have given them certainly has proved edifying. But as for their grammar, the less said, the better.”
You see, I was their English teacher at that point of time!

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