From Mark O’ Shea, Brian Fry, Steve Irwin, Brady Barr, Dian Fossey, Romulus Whitaker, Austin Stevens, Jeff Corwin, David Gruber to John Hammond, Billy Peltzer, Hiccup, Astrid (and I bet I can go on and on with the list), every show, every interaction, and every species has kept my fascination for wildlife alive all along the way. Rom was five when he handled a Milk snake, and Steve was six when he handled a Scrub Python. Having let go the self-condemnation of not being able to interact with wildlife at such early stages, I decided to work along with the like-focused people.
Enter Friends of Snakes Society (FOSS). A year went by, with me postponing the joining every Sunday. One fine weekend, it was a stormy day with ravens screeching, eagles soaring high, kids terrified at the happenings, Satan and the Deities descending Earth (psst, I just like to exaggerate), and I heard my call once again. Determined, I gave up lazing around and started my voyage (not of the dawn treader) of learning. My learning went on forth in three stages – Identifying the snake, safe handling of non-venomous and venomous snakes, and being able to implement what I learnt in rescuing a snake – ‘The pro-way’. Every week at college was tedious and irking, and I could only wait for my time to learn about these secretive creatures, like an eager kid about to open a favorite merchandise toy cover. The longing for weekends and relishing weekends went on and on.
By the end of four months, I understood what petty jokes we were, with nothing but just an evolved brain. Six months and I realized, watching B. B. C or Nat Geo is terribly different from performing or endeavoring the same. About eight months post, I still failed to get side-taken in finalizing my favorite snake. Ten months, and I’m decent at understanding their behavior (and still convinced that I’m just an evolutionary joke).
It was time – The bird had to set off its flight out of nest, Hiccup had to rescue the Night Fury, Hulk had to thrash down Loki & Spock, and Captain Kirk had to save the world.
Three o’ clock in the early morning, my phone sang ‘Hey Jude’. As I rudely cut off Sir Paul McCartney and answered the call, I was told that the rescue location was a lake right behind the posh pretended apartment amidst a village I lived in. I layered myself in an extra black jacket, doubting the warmth of five-year-old full sleeved tee and sweatpants. I sneaked out of the house as swift and neat as a cat. I reached the staircase and then a loyal community stray accompanied me in rushing to the back gate that lead to the lake. I locked him there and analysed the fragmented strings of data to theorize the possible species of rescue on my way. I walked a few metres towards the lake and found a compact hut surrounded by a group of well-built, tough looking fishermen and their families. I reached the hut, every theorizing went in vain, for, it was a beautifully grown fresh water snake with a bright morph of checks, royally gulping away the Tilapia fish. The intruder seemed to have been enjoying the early meal, not really bothered about the audience. I witnessed the stud prey on two more averagely sized Tilapia fish, as though it had mastered the art of eating from head to tail, considering the fish had spines. I spent the time talking of how harmless Checkered keelback snakes are (though my inner voice constantly reminded me of their chewing reputation), allowing the intruder time to finish its meal.
The show came to an end when the intruder became aware of the audience and I bagged the content snake gently, allowing it to move in the gap created between my thumb finger and rest of the palm. And that, was how I rescued my first snake, before I woke up next to my opportunistic canine claiming the huge part of my bed, waiting for his morning walk.
P.S. – End of dream-rescuing and sleep-narrating, until next!
Sai Lakshmi (aka Sai) is an Aeronautical Engineer by graduation and loves running after anything that's alive. Given a chance, this self proclaimed mango woman (aam adhmi) would turn into an invisible fire breathing dino-gron, an evil faced goblin, and talk world peace with the aliens.:)