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“The snake and the mirror”written by Vaikom Muhammad Basheer , revolves around a horrific incident happened with a bachelor doctor who encountered a snake while admiring himself into the mirror. The story is narrated by the doctor himself in which he seems taking the situation humorously despite the danger.
It was a hot summer night about ten o’clock when the doctor had his meal at the restaurant and he returned to his room.He had just set up medical practice and his earnings were too small .He had about sixty rupees in his suitcase along with some other shirts, dhotis and one solitary black coat.
He then describes his room which had two windows.It was an outer room with one wall facing the open yard and had a tiled roof with long supporting gables that rested on the beam over the wall. The room had no ceiling and there was a regular traffic of rats.
The doctor got up and went out to the veranda for little fresh air but due to the absence of the wind ,he went back into his room and sat down on the chair to read a book “The Materia Medica”. He opend it at the table on which stood a lamp, a mirror,and a small comb lying beside it.
Being tempted by the mirror kept infront of him he began gazing himself into it as he was a great admirer of beauty and he believed in making himself look handsome. He was unmarried so he realised that he should do something to make his presence felt. He picked up the comb and ran it through his hair and adjusted the parting so that it looked staight and neat. While grooming himself,he could hear some sound but he ignored it.
After admiring himself,he decided that he would shave everyday and would grow a thin moustache to look more handsome after all he was a bachelor and a doctor. He then decided that he would keep an attractive smile on his face as well to look more handsome. Then another idea strucked him that was to marry a fat woman doctor with plenty of money and a good medical practice.
Encounter with a snake
Suddenly there was a noise of a rubber tube fallen to the ground. No sooner did he turn than a snake wriggled over the back of the chair and landed on his shoulder.
Soon, the snake coiled on his left arm . The snake was merely inches away from his face. As a consequence, the doctor went into a deep shock and almost turned to stone. He did not jump and tremble as there was no time to do such things. At this moment he felt the presence of God and realised that God might had not liked his words. At this realization of his true worth, the snake left the doctor and moved towards the mirror. As such, the doctor silently escaped and his life was saved.
Through this short story, the author intends to make the readers realise that one should not be boastful of himself and arrogant of temporary achievements because these things are futile in nature. It is the moment of fear that a person realises his actual worth and the useless worldly pleasures. In the story, the doctor was boasting himself of his education and good looks but as soon as he encountered the ferocious snake, he realised that how his life could end within minutes.