Today, I had another encounter with the snake that lives in our yard.
We said hello without exchanging words.
Our glances met, but only for a brief second or two. Then the snake wriggled away back into the grass and quickly vanished.
Our encounters are rare, just once or twice per month. We’ve been meeting like this for the past twenty years.
I must confess that when I encounter the snake, the color of the soil and more than one meter ling, a chill runs up my spine. I always have the feeling that the snake is out to get revenge. When I was eight and first came face to face with the snake, I tried to injure it with a shovel. Luckily, I failed.
It was springtime and the snakes are out to court and make love. The elders say that snakes are very jealous creatures and also spiteful. If you were to frighten or injure one in a couple, and the mate sees what you are doing, rest assured it’ll remember and go after you.
Whatever; the snake in our yard has yet to seek revenge against me. Who knows, perhaps it has forgiven me or else its mate didn’t notice my act of “bravery”.
People are terrified of snakes. Every day the Ministry of Emergency Situations receive calls from this or that school or garden and send a team out to capture a snake and transport it to a safer place.
But why are people so scared of snakes? Are they more dangerous than the “walking creepy-crawlers” that are all around us? It never crosses my mind to call the 911 emergency unit and ask that they visit our house.
The snake has become a member of the family, and I don’t want them to transport it to a “safer” place. Our yard is the safest place around since we leave in peace and harmony, far away from the “evil eyes”.
I probably inherited my love of snakes.The elder generation of our village is familiar with the tale regarding my grandfather and his love of snakes.
My grandfather, Grisha Balasanyan was three years old and eating matzoun out in the yard.
A snake approached and ate from the same dish. Then the two ate together. Those in the house were terrified at what they saw. They took the young boy to the local hekim (folk doctor) to see if the snake had bit the lad.
From that day, my grandfather and the snake were bound with some sort of supernatural force. They were always together in the yard. When he married and built his own home a few streets away (where we still live today), the loyal snake moved as well.
I never saw my grandfather. The elders of the street recount that we had a magnificent vineyard. Early in the mornings and in the evenings, my grandfather would work in the garden. In the afternoons he taught mathematics in the local school.
When my grandfather would work in the garden, the snake would advance in step in the neighbouring plant bed. When my grandpa was absent, no one ever spotted the snake.
When they were together, no outsider could ever enter the garden. The snake would hiss at any intruder, making it clear that they weren’t welcome. They say that snakes can also fall in love with people and become jealous. Most likely, the snake had fallen in love with my grandfather.
The snake never injured anyone in a rage of jealousy, but they say there were days when the snake, irritated over something or other, disappeared from the garden only to return later on.
They all advised my grandfather to kill the snake, fearing that something bad would happen one day to the rest of the family. But he stood fast and continued his friendship with the snake.
I don’t know how long the relationship lasted, but the snake disappeared after my grandpa died.
Sometime later, an image of a snake was said to have appeared on my grandfather’s gravestone. The image remains till today as if especially carved.
I really can’t say if the snake living in our yard today is the offspring of my grandfather’s snake or not.
But take my word; it’s just as good-natured and sensitive as the old one.