My soul light and feather-like was being flown by Hermes towards Hades. Death had finally seized me. I was trapped... Snakes fascinated me from childhood. I always felt a secret bond with them. I used to accompany my mother when she went to cut grass on a rambling meadow. I would roam about searching for snakes. I loved these slithery creatures that attack only when scared. Every day I would capture one or two and take them home. As I grew older, this fascination waxed. I even made myself immune to snakebites by making baby cobras bite me and inject venom into my body. I experimented a lot with poison to keep myself safe while playing with these deadly creatures. I never hurt them. I knew they were scared of humans so I never used any instrument to catch them. I became popular as a fearless snake catcher and was much in demand. I caught them and released them safely in the wild forest where they belonged. I had been bitten many times when I handled them. But on this occasion I was bitten badly. He was a huge cobra, a beauty, measuring about seven metres. The crowd and the noise scared him and he was restless, I was distracted for a fraction of a second and he bit me. I had to pull him off forcefully. Poor thing, it must have hurt him badly… The pain was excruciating as he had injected a good amount of poison, I was losing time, yet I managed to put him inside a sack and draw the strings tightly, before I fainted and they sped me to the hospital. The doctors declared me dead. My soul was winged to the underworld by Hermes. Charon stood ready to ferry me to Hades. On the shore of Acheron, souls flitted restlessly. Hoary bearded Charon, stared at me with piercing, furnace eyes. Has he heard of me? I wondered. I was sad leaving my world behind. I fidgeted, worrying about my parents and my snake friends and the people who needed me. They trusted me, a call was enough to take me to their place and draw out the snake and take it back to its home. So I was a mediator, a guardian angel for the snakes and for the humans, a rescuer who saved them from the venomous crawlies. I am still young and my obligations remain unfulfilled. The thought of the impoverished sick people, the homeless ones, the poor and the needy whom I help to survive in this harsh universe made me sad. I yearned to survive this snake bite but I had already reached the nether world. I was hastily escorted to the boat. Strangely enough, no other soul was allowed to enter the boat. Charon started ferrying the boat across Acheron flowing passive and silent like a python. The boat sailed silently, we were almost in the middle and it balked. Try as he could, Charon couldn’t ferry it further. And I noticed the boat was sliding backward to the shore, an invisible agency was pulling it towards the starting point. Puzzled Charon glared at me. At the edge of the water stood Hermes with extended arms to receive me. It was a mistake. I had to be taken back to my body which the doctors had revived. Hermes flew fast to reach the hospital. I felt he was tensed. and I wondered why...as I slipped into my body, to resume my life, as the friend and mediator between snakes and humans.(596)
Painter poet and self styled green woman, Prof. Lathaprem Sakhya, working with brush, pen and spade, was born to Tamil parents, settled in Kerala. Apart from Painting, writing poetry, drabbles and flash fiction, she is also interested in translating short works into English from Tamil and Malayalam. Widely anthologized, she is a regular contributor to several e- magazines.
Her books are Memory Rain, 2008, Nature At My Doorstep, 2011 and Vernal Strokes, 2015. (73)