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‘The Snake Catcher’ is a short story written by eminent poet Rumi. As the title suggests, it is about a snake catcher and his tale of woe as he falls prey to undesirous traits such as greed and ambition. It sheds light on the dire consequences of sin and temptation.
About the Author:
Moulana Jalal-ud-din Rumi (1207-1273) is a prominent Persian Sufi poet and writer hailing from Iran. His works have greatly influenced Islam in itself. Famous works of his include ‘Masnavi’, ‘Love is a Stranger’, and ‘Rumi: Bridge to the Soul’.
The theme of this short story is spirituality. As in all his works, Rumi brings out his religious moral in this short story as well through the snake catcher and his dragon.
The Man in Iraq:
The story begins with a man in Iraq, the birthplace of Rumi himself, who happened to be a snake catcher. His street performances with his snakes becoming very common, he was forced to go in search of new types of snakes in the cold mountains in order to make some money again. However, what he found was not a snake but a golden yellow dragon! Foolishly assuming it to be dead, he brought in back to his town in hopes of reaching the heights of fame and wealth.
The man reached his town and proudly proclaimed that he himself had killed a mighty dragon. Even as people crowded around to see the biggest snake they had ever seen, the warmth of the sun awoke the dragon. People ran helter-skelter in terror. The dragon, however, showed no mercy. It devoured everyone it its path, even the man who had falsely claimed to have killed it and entwined itself in a pillar it found nearby.
This is a story that had deep moral values in it. The snake catcher is a representation of all human beings who are consumed by emotions such as lust, greed, and ambition. Despite being aware of its danger, he brings the dragon to his town.
The dragon thus is a symbol of his temptation and desire. What laid dormant before thus came to life as the snake catcher’s desire grew and grew. Rumi hence brings out the moral that an individual’s sinful aspirations can prove to wreak havoc not just on themselves but those who are around them as well.