Table of Contents
This chapter is based on the famous classical Indian drama of the fight between the Cobra and the Mongoose. The narrator describes the Banyan tree of his garden in the first part. Under this tree, he witnessed a fascinating sight which is described in the second part of the chapter.
The young narrator lived in Dehradun in a house that had a Banyan tree in its garden. The tree was very large and so old that its hanging branches had started taking roots in the ground. It housed many animals and birds. It was the narrator’s favourite thing in the garden and he loved to climb it.
The narrator once befriended a tiny grey squirrel. The animal was initially fearful of the human’s presence on the tree but grew friendly later. The young boy gained its trust by not harming it and by feeding it cake and biscuits. The Banyan tree attracted numerous birds in the spring season; many bulbuls, parrots, mynas and crows flocked on to its branches to eat the red figs.
On the tree was a platform which the boy called his Banyan Tree Library. He liked to climb to this spot and read his favourite books there. He also loved to simply sit there and stare at the world below. On one such occasion, he witnessed an interesting fight.
It was the beginning of the summer season and due to the warm breeze everyone was indoors. The narrator was up on the tree at his usual spot. Just when he was thinking of climbing down to go to the pond to bathe, he spotted a huge black Cobra and a Mongoose come face to face with each other.
Thus began a fascinating fight between two of the quickest and cleverest animals. As the cycle of attacks and defences began, two birds- a Crow and a Myna, flew onto one of the branches. But unlike the narrator, the birds were not just there to watch the fight.
The Cobra tried to use its trick of swaying its hood to mesmerise its opponent. The Mongoose, however, did not fall for this trick and remained alert. Clever as the Mongoose was, it fooled the snake by pretending to be moving in one direction. And as the Cobra struck in that direction, the Mongoose switched its path and bit the snake on its back.
The two birds immediately flew in the direction of the injured snake but collided into each other instead. The birds hurled grudging insults at each other and returned to their safe spots. The Cobra got tricked a second time and the birds displayed a similar foolish response. As the Mongoose hit a third time, the birds flew too close to the snake.
While the Myna escaped, the Crow was struck by the snake and fell dead on the ground. The Mongoose bit the snake a final time and the snake was too exhausted to continue the fight. It dragged its tired and bleeding body into the bushes and the Myna, grateful for its own life, flew away. The Mongoose stood victoriously under the Banyan tree.
Despite the Cobra being poisonous and hence more dangerous, the Mongoose won. This proves that it is one’s wits and pace that help them to survive. The snake and the mongoose are a classic example of how wisdom and cleverness surpass physical strength. The Crow’s death teaches us that the consequences of interfering in someone else’s fight can be fatal.