About The Author
Vaikom Muhammad Basheer was a Malayalam fiction writer from the state of Kerala in India. He was a humanist, freedom fighter, novelist and short story writer. He is noted for his path-breaking, disarmingly down-to-earth style of writing that made him equally popular among literary critics as well as the common man.
Born: 21 January 1908, Thalayolaparambu Died: 5 July 1994, Beypore Awards: Kerala State Film Award for Best Story, Sahitya Akademi Award.
V. Abdulla was born in 1921 in Tikkodi near Kozhikode. His father, B. Poker Sahib, was a distinguished lawyer and Member of the Constituent Assembly and of the Lok Sabha. After graduating MA and BL, Abdulla joined Orient Longman, from where he retired as divisional director in charge of publication. For a time he was an Executive Member of the Kerala Sangit Natak Akademi. Both before and after retirement he used to write regularly in English for the Hindu and Frontline and in Malayalam for Mathrubhumi. He published many books of translations from Malayalam into English, mainly in the area of prose fiction and including novels and stories. He passed away on 16 May 2003 at Kannur, Kerala, after a brief illness.
The writer tells us the story of a homeopathic doctor who once had an encounter with a poisonous snake. It coiled itself round his left arm. The doctor was horrified and prayed to God to save him. The snake turned its head and saw its own image in the mirror on the table. It unwound itself from the doctor’s arm and crept towards the mirror. Now the doctor got up slowly from the chair and ran out of the house. He went to the house of one of his friends and spent the night there. Next morning, when he came back, he was shocked to find that there was nothing left in his room. Some thief had taken away most of his things.
The story conveys the message that one should never be proud of one’s beauty, strength or achievements. The fear of death makes a person realize how futile the worldly achievements are. It is faith in God which make a person strong. The doctor in the story is cured of his arrogance after a close encounter with death.
The narrator of the story is a homeopathic doctor. He tells a story of his encounter with a poisonous snake to some of his friends. He says that in those days he lived in a rented room which was full of rats and they constantly made noises.
It was around 10 O’clock at a hot summer night. He had just returned home after taking his meals at a restaurant. He lighted the kerosene lamp. After some time, he opened the two windows in the room. Then he sat down on the chair and took out a book to read.
Apart from the lamp, there was a large mirror on the table. In those days, the doctor cared much about his looks as he was a bachelor. He picked
The doctor got up, lit a beedi and paced up and down the room. He decided that he would marry. He thought that he would marry a woman doctor who had plenty of money and a good medical practice. He decided that he would marry a fat lady so that she would not be able to run after him if he wanted to run away.
Then he sat down on the chair in front of the table. There were no more sounds of rats. Suddenly something fell on the ground with a thud. As he turned to look at. He was horrified to see that there was a large snake on the back of the chair. Just then the snake came on his shoulder. Before the doctor could think and act, the snake coiled itself round his left arm. Its hood was spread and its head was hardly three or four inches from his face.
The doctor was horrified. He prayed to God to save him. It appeared as if God had heard his prayer. The snake turned its head and looked into the mirror. It saw its own image. Then the snake unwound itself from the doctor’s arm and fell into his lap. From there the snake crept onto the table. It moved towards the mirror. Perhaps it wanted to see its image closely. Now the doctor acted quickly. Still holding his breath, he got up slowly from the chair. Then he ran out of the house. He went to the house of one of his friends and spent the night there. Next morning, he came back to his room. He was shocked to find that there was nothing left in his room. Some thief had taken away most of his things. There was no sign of the snake either.