The Snake and the Mirror Summary :
Do you like to look at yourself in the mirror? What do you think about such times? Have you ever seen a dog, a cat or a bird look into a mirror? What do you think it sees?
Now read this humorous story about a doctor, a snake, and a mirror.
Snake Summary and Mirror is an in-depth story. The author tells a story he heard from a homoeopathic doctor. And similarly, the story revolves around two things about the Snake and the Mirror.
Moreover, in this case, the doctor remembers the day in his youth, when he was single. The doctor arrives at his room on a hot summer night and convinces him of deep thought. In the middle of it, the doctor suddenly has an argument with the snake as it falls to the doctor.
The doctor panicked, but soon the snake saw his thoughts in the mirror and approached him. It seems that the serpent was also more interested in his thinking than the doctor Similarly, the doctor’s life was saved.
1) “HAS a snake ever coiled itself around any part of your body? A full-blooded cobra?” All of us fell silent. The question came from the homoeopath. The topic came up when we were discussing snakes. We listened attentively as the doctor continued with his tale.
It was a hot summer night; about ten o’clock. I had my meal at the restaurant and returned to my room. I heard a noise from above as I opened the door. The sound was a familiar one. One could say that the rats and I shared the room. I took out my box of matches and lighted the kerosene lamp on the table.
2) The house was not electrified; it was a small rented room. I had just set up a medical practice and my earnings were meagre. I had about sixty rupees in my suitcase. Along with some shirts and dhotis, I also possessed one solitary black coat which I was then wearing
3)I took off my black coat, white shirt and not-so-white vest and hung them up. I opened the two windows in the room. It was an outer room with one wall facing the open yard. It had a tiled roof with long supporting gables that rested on the beam over the wall.
There was no ceiling. There was regular traffic of rats to and from the beam. I made my bed and pulled it close to the wall. I lay down but I could not sleep. I got up and went out to the veranda for a little air, but the wind god seemed to have taken time off.
4)I went back into the room and sat down on the chair. I opened the box beneath the table and took out a book, the Materia Medica. I opened it at the table on which stood the lamp and a large mirror; a small comb lay beside the mirror.
One feels tempted to look into a mirror when it is near one. I took a look. In those days I was a great admirer of beauty and I believed in making myself look handsome. I was unmarried and I was a doctor.
I felt I had to make my presence felt. I picked up the comb and ran it through my hair and adjusted the parting so that it looked straight and neat. Again I heard that sound from above.
5) . I took a close look at my face in the mirror. I made an important decision _I would shave daily and grow a thin moustache to look more handsome. I was after all a bachelor and a doctor! I looked into the mirror and smiled.
It was an attractive smile. I made another earth-shaking decision. I would always keep that attractive smile on my face … to look more handsome. I was after all a bachelor, and a doctor too on top of it! Again came that noise from above.
6) I got up, paced up and down the room. Then another lovely thought struck me. I would marry. I would get married to a woman doctor who had plenty of money and good medical practice. She had to be fat; for a valid reason.
If I made some silly mistake and needed to run away she should not be able to run after me and catch me! With such thoughts in my mind, I resumed my seat in the chair in front of the table. There were no more sounds from above.
Suddenly there came a dull thud as if a rubber tube had fallen to the ground … surely nothing to worry about. Even so,
I thought I would turn around and take a look. No sooner had I turned than a fat snake wriggled over the back of the chair and landed on my shoulder. The snake’s landing on me and my turning was simultaneous.
7) I didn’t jump. I didn’t tremble. I didn’t cry out. There was no time to do any such thing. The snake slithered along my shoulder and coiled around my left arm above the elbow.
The hood was spread out and its head was hardly three or four inches from my face! It would not be correct to say merely that I sat there holding my breath. I was turned to stone. But my mind was very active.
The door opened into darkness. The room was surrounded by darkness. In the light of the lamp I sat there like a stone image in the flesh.
8) I felt then the great presence of the creator of this world and this universe. God was there. Suppose I said something and he did not like it . . . I tried in my imagination to write in bright letters outside my little heart the words, ‘O God.
There was some pain in my left arm. It was as if a thick leaden rod _ no, a rod made of molten fire was slowly but powerfully crushing my arm. The arm was beginning to be drained of all strength. What could I do?
9) At my slightest movement the snake would strike me! Death lurked four inches away. Suppose it struck, what was the medicine I had to take? There were no medicines in the room. I was but a poor, foolish and stupid doctor.
I forgot my danger and smiled feebly at myself. It seemed as if God appreciated that. The snake turned its head. It looked into the mirror and saw its reflection. I do not claim that it was the first snake that had ever looked into a mirror.
But it was certain that the snake was looking into the mirror. Was it admiring its own beauty? Was it trying to make an important decision about growing a moustache or using eye shadow and mascara or wearing a vermilion spot on its forehead?
10) I did not know anything for certain. What sex was this snake, was it male or female? I will never know; for the snake unwound itself from my arm and slowly slithered into my lap. From there it crept onto the table and moved towards the mirror.
Perhaps it wanted to enjoy its reflection at closer quarters. I was no mere image cut in granite. I was suddenly a man of flesh and blood. Still holding my breath I got up from the chair. I quietly went out through the door into the veranda.
From there I leapt into the yard and ran for all I was worth. “Phew !” Each of us heaved a sigh of relief. Somebody asked, “Doctor, is your wife very fat?
11) “No,” the doctor said. “God willed otherwise. My life companion is a thin reedy person with the gift of a sprinter.”
Someone else asked, “Doctor, when you ran did the snake follow you?”
The doctor replied, “I ran and ran till I reached a friend’s house. Immediately I smeared oil all over myself and took a bath. I changed into fresh clothes. The next morning at about eight-thirty I took my friend and one or two others to my room to move my things from there.
But we found we had little to carry. Some thief had removed most of my things. The room had been cleaned out! But not really, the thief had left behind one thing as a final insult!’
12) “What was that?” I asked. The doctor said, “My vest, the dirty one. The fellow had such a sense of cleanliness…! The rascal could have taken it and used it after washing it with soap and water.”
“Did you see the snake the next day, doctor?”
The doctor laughed, “I’ve never seen it since. It was a snake which was taken with its own beauty!”
VAIKOM MUHAMMAD BASHEER
The Snake and the Mirror Questions and Answers:
Q. 1) Discuss in pairs and answer each question below in a short paragraph
I) The sound was a familiar one.” What sound did the doctor hear? What did he think it was? How many times did he hear it? (Find the places in the text.) When and why did the sounds stop?
Ans: The doctor heard the sound of rats. The sound was a familiar one. He heard this sound four times. The phrases are ‘Again I heard that sound from above’, ‘Again came that noise from above’, ‘Suddenly there came a dull thud as if a rubber tube has fallen’. The sounds stopped after the appearance of the snake.
II) What two “important” and “earth¬shaking” decisions did the doctor take while he was looking into the mirror?
Ans: The doctor took the following two ‘important’ and ‘earth shaking’ decisions:
(a) He would shave daily and grow a thin moustache to look more handsome.
(b) He would always keep that attractive smile on his face.
III) I looked into the mirror and smiled,” says the doctor. A little later he says, “I forgot my danger and smiled feebly at myself.” What is the doctor’s opinion about himself when (i) he first smiles, and (ii) he smiles again? In what way do his thoughts change in between, and why?
Ans: The doctor thought that he had a good smile when he first smiled. But when he smiled a little later, he laughed at his destiny. His life was in danger. His thoughts got changed because of the snake. He was quite near to death.
Q. 2)This story about a frightening incident is narrated in a humorous way. What makes it humorous? (Think of the contrasts it presents between dreams and reality. Some of them are listed below). Write short paragraphs on each of these to get your answer.
1) The kind of person the doctor is (money, possessions)
Ans: A doctor is a poor man. He does not have much money. His house has no electricity. It is a small rented room which has many rats. He has about sixty rupees in his suitcase. Along with some shirts and dhotis, he also possesses one solitary black coat.
2) The kind of person he wants to be (appearance, ambition)
Ans: He wants to be a handsome person. So he decides to shave daily and grow a thin moustache. He also wishes to accumulate wealth.
Q. 3) I_ The person he wants to marry
Ans: He intends to marry a woman doctor who has plenty of money and good medical practice. He wishes to have a fat wife so that she cannot run after him and catch him when he would make a mistake.
II) The person he actually marries
Ans: The person he actually marries is a thin reedy person with the gift of a sprinter.
Q. 4) I) His thoughts when he looks into the mirror
Ans: He thinks that he should look smart. So he decides to shave daily and retain his smile. He is happy and contented when he looks into the mirror.
II) His thoughts when the snake is coiled around his arm
Ans: When the snake coiled around his left arm above the elbow, he kept sitting there holding his breath. He became motionless. He was afraid of the snake.
The Snake and the Mirror Thinking about language:
1) Here are some sentences from the text. Say which of them tell you, that the author:
(a) was afraid of the snake, (b) was proud of his appearance, (c) had a sense of humour, (d) was no longer afraid of the snake.
- I was turned to stone.
- I was no mere image cut in granite.
- The arm was beginning to be drained of strength.
- I tried in my imagination to write in bright letters outside my little heart the words, ‘O God’.
- I didn’t tremble. I didn’t cry out.
- I looked into the mirror and smiled. It was an attractive smile.
- I was suddenly a man of flesh and blood.
- I was after all a bachelor, and a doctor too on top of it!
- The fellow had such a sense of cleanliness … ! The rascal could have taken it and used it after washing it with soap and water.
- Was it trying to make an important decision about growing a moustache or using eye shadow and mascara or wearing a vermilion spot on its forehead.
- The sentences (1), (3), (4), (5) tell that the author (a) was afraid of the snake.
- The sentences (6) and (8) tell that he
(b) was proud of his appearance.
- The sentences (9) and (10) tell that
(c) he had a sense of humour.
- The sentences (2) and (7) tell that (d) he was no longer afraid of the snake
Q. 2) Expressions used to show fear
Can you find the expressions in the story that tells you that the author was frightened? Read the story and complete the following sentences.
- I was turned ……………….
- I sat there holding ……………….
- In the light of the lamp I sat there like ……………….
- I was turned to stone.
- I sat there holding my breath.
- In the light of the lamp I sat there like a stone image in the flesh.
Q. 3) In the sentences given below some words and expressions are italicised. They variously mean that one
- is very frightened.
- is too scared to move.
- is frightened by something that happens suddenly.
- makes another feel frightened.
Match the meanings with the words/ expressions in italics, and write the appropriate meaning next to the sentence. The first one has been done for you.
- I knew a man was following me, I was scared out of my wits,
- I got a fright when I realised how close I was to the cliff edge.
- He nearly jumped out of his skin when he saw the bull coming towards him.
- You really gave me a fright when you crept up behind me like that.
- Wait until I tell his story—it will make your hair stand on end.
- Paralysed with fear, the boy faced his abductors.
- The boy hid behind the door, not moving a muscle.
- I knew a man was following me, I was scared out of my wits, (very frightened)
- I got a fright when I realized how close I was to the cliff edge, (too scared to move).
- He nearly jumped out of his skin when he saw the bull coming towards him. (frightened by something that happens suddenly)
- You really gave me a fright when you crept up behind me like that, (made someone feel frightened)
- Wait until I tell his story—it will make your hair stand on end. (very frightened)
- Paralysed with fear, the boy faced his abductors, (too scared to move)
- The boy hid behind the door, not moving a muscle, (too scared to move)
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