I ignored his shenanigans, as long as he stuck his tongue out at me from behind the thickets. But when the slimy little creep paid a domiciliary visit to my domain and parked himself in my parlour claiming tenancy rights, I pressed the panic button. And the squatter was beyond the long arm of the law since he belonged to the slippery class of reptilians, or, simply put, he was a snake.
So, things came to a head when I was jolted out of my bed by the bedlam that had broken out at home. A creepy-crawly had made his maiden guest appearance at my house and holed up under a sofa attracting an assembly of nosy couch potatoes from our vicinity who were debating on the pedigree of the colubrine caller. While there was' a broad consensus about the NRI (non-resident intruder) being a rat-snake, one Robin Hood in our neighborhood testified that he distinctly saw the snake's hood. And when my appeal to the enlightened conclave of self-styled ophiologists to ‘do a Whitaker' on the snake found few takers, I signed up a professional snake-catcher to evict the errant tenant.
The snake-catcher, a stern looking chap purportedly endowed with a 'garuda rekha' ( a line) on his palm that could urge the most belligerent among the snakes to throw in the towel without much hiss, came with his paraphernalia consisting of a stick and a gunny sack. He opened the proceedings by giving the snake a piece of his mind in a strange 'hiss-panic' tongue - or rather, while he hissed at his quarry, the snake panicked. After a while, unable to defy his marching orders, the reptile dutifully ducked into the sack. And having picked up his cargo, the snake-catcher left richer by a hundred rupees.
Within weeks, the serpent resurfaced on my domestic stage as if to take his curtain-call. And then again after sometime to give an enthusiastic encore. Then he went on to showcase his hisstrionics almost on a monthly basis keeping the snake-catcher's hands (and his wallet) full.
The proverbial light at the end of the tunnel came when a friend tipped me off about the snake-catcher who, it seemed, was a confidence trickster adept at turning his gullible clients into milch-cows by periodically planting the snakes in their premises. It was a case of recycled reptile catered to a renewable clientele.
The last time the snake popped in for a snooze, I let him unwind in peace and then find his way out into the thickets whence he came. Nowadays, whenever our paths cross, I give him the right of way. He sticks his tongue out at me as he passes on and I thumb my nose at him. And the rest, as they say, is hiss-story.
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