A Snake In The Grass

My last post was on Christmas Eve and I told you about the gift of mongooses that were given to us. I mentioned that to the best of my knowledge not one of the 3 mongooses ever killed a cobra, though that is what, according to Rudyard Kipling and others, they are supposed to do. I also promised you a real live, no I mean dead, cobra story. Being raised with the law that one must always keep a promise, here goes—

Aba house-2abPlease note that this picture of the house where I was born and where I grew up has a grass roof. It has something to do with the title of this post.

Snakes. We had snakes everywhere. Well, not everywhere. I mean, my mother never served me wiggling snakes in my soup like in that Indiana Jones movie, Temple of Doom. I have eaten grilled python steak, but it wasn’t cooked on shiny, chrome gas grill, but skewered on a stick over an open fire.

Snakes were around and they were all poisonous, except the pythons and they just squeezed you to death until you were squeezed thin enough to be swallowed whole. Of course if they had just swallowed a goat or a pig, then they laid around eyeing you suspiciously. Pythons liked to lay up in the trees and drop down on their prey. That was a good reason to keep looking up, as some preachers say, but I digress…

We would have to deal with a snake at least once a week. When I say “deal with a snake” I mean they were creating a hazard to navigation, and as any seafaring person knows, a hazard to navigation has to be removed. It was understood that snakes were to be killed. If anyone yelled, “noika”, everybody dropped whatever they were doing and ran to whoever had yelled to help them kill it. 

All snakes were to be killed. There was not a single good snake, except once when we had killed a black mamba that had been hiding in the hibiscus hedge that surrounded the outhouse, one of the natives very solemnly put his hand on my father’s shoulder and said, “Bwana, that is a good kind of snake. It will never bite you until it is your time to die.” But again, I digress…

Snakes, as everybody knows, are cold-blooded creatures. If not, The Snake would not have cold-bloodedly tempted Eve with absolutely no consideration for the wellbeing of the human race. In fact that snake wanted to destroy the human race, and its descendents have been biting people’s heals ever since. Oh, dear, again I digress…

Even though snakes are cold-blooded, they like to be warm. They will crawl into holes or a crack in the warm earth at night to keep warm and come out to bask in the warm sun during the day. Trying to keep warm on a cool night is what induced a snake to crawl into one of my father’s boots one night.

My father had the habit of turning his boots, or his shoes, or even his slippers over and shaking them before his slid feet into them. That was to shake out any spiders, or scorpions that might have crawled in there. This time, as always, my father turned the boot over and shook it and was about to slip his foot into it when he thought that it felt heavier than it should. He turned the boot over again and shook it, this time hitting the bottom of it while shaking it and a snake slithered out. After that we all turned our boots over and shook them before we put them on, but again, I digress…

It was the custom in our house, unless we were on safari or something like that, for us children to take a nap after lunch. On the day the cobra fell on her, my sister was taking her nap in the “middle room”. It was called the middle room because that’s where it was, in the middle of the house between the living room and my parents bedroom. Actually it was my mother’s office, sort of, but it had a couch in it.

Cobra1bThe cobra must have climbed up by way of the Bougainvillea vine that grew at the end of the house. From the Bougainvillea, it crawled into the foot-thick thatch roof and from there dropped to the ceiling which was nothing more than woven mats laid on top of hand sawn beams. 

The snake started in an opening between the overlap of the mats and suddenly found itself hanging from the ceiling. The cobra couldn’t slither back the way it had come. When my dad entered the room the cobra had just fallen from the ceiling onto my sleeping sister. The snake landing on my sister woke her and what she saw was the cobra, angered by its fall, raised up, its hood spread, ready to strike. She froze, afraid even to yell, “noika,” while the cobra’s head swung back and forth, its eyes searching for something to attack.

My dad rushed across the room, seized the snake at the middle, which is not the place to grab a cobra that is about to strike, in fact it is not a good place to grab a poisonous snake at any time because they can turn back on you. 

He ran across the room, across the wide porch, shaking the snake vigorously, shouting, “Noika, Noika” and threw the cobra into the front yard. The cobra, intimidated by the wrath of a loving father, did not rise up defiantly to strike someone, but tried to slither off into the grass. It couldn’t get away. The natives all clubbed it to death.

It is a miracle that the cobra didn’t bite my sister. It is a miracle that my dad happened to come into that room just at that time. It is a miracle that the snake didn’t bite my father. Some times you just have to believe in miracles whether you believe in them or not.

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My book The Telephone Killer published by 2nd Wind Publishing is now available on Amazon and from the publisher.
Kindle and Nook versions of The Telephone Killer is just $4.99.
Also available as an audiobook.
Another new novel of mine, Murder Sets Sail, will be coming soon from Second Wind Publishing. This one is not a mystery. You know from the very beginning who the murderers are and who they are planning to kill.
To learn more about me or read portions of The Telephone Killer click here.

6 Comments

Filed under Art, books, fiction, writing

6 responses to “A Snake In The Grass

  1. Oh my goodness, Paul!!! I’m glad I never lived there. Eeeeeeuuuuuw! But, I’d say you did have miracles to help you!!!!

    • Paul J. Stam

      Aloha Coco,

      I didn’t think it was exciting when I was living it. I just thought it was a normal life. It wasn’t till I came to the States that I knew how different it was.

      Thanks for commenting. I assume since you commented you also liked the post, so thanks for that too.

      Have a great day, week, month, year, life.

      Aloha Paul J. Stam 45-705 Kamehameha Hwy. # 416 Kaneohe, HI 96744 808.247.7323 paul-808@hawiiantel.net Author’s Page Paul’s blogs: Paper, Mud and Me and Writing I Am Pauls website http://www.paulsbooks.net paul@paulsbooks.net

  2. Wow! My dad used to tell of someone waking up in prison camp with a snake on his chest. The cook persuaded the guards that dead snakes were poisonous too, so all the prisoners enjoyed snake stew. I asked Dad what snake tasted like, but he said it was shared between so many he couldn’t tell.

  3. Paul J. Stam

    Aloha Sheila,
    I will assume since you commented that you didn’t dislike “Snake in the Grass.” ;-}
    Thanks for commenting. To be real honest with you I can’t remember what python tasted like, but we had been walking all day so it probably tasted pretty good. – Blessings and Aloha – pjs.

  4. There is something to be said for living in Minnesota! No scorpions or pythons or cobras.

    • Paul J. Stam

      Aloha Christine,
      What you say is very true, but having lived 15 years in the Congo and 20 years in Minnesota, I think I prefer the scorpion, pythons, and cobras of the Congo to the rattlesnakes of Minnesota summers and 30 below zero of the winters; especially the winers.
      Another month or two and the deep freeze will be over and spring will be on the way. ;-} Aloha and have a great summer.

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