Sunday evening gave us something to be excited about. A cobra had been sighted!

In NCBS campus, located way out of Bangalore and deep within the entrails of GKVK, Sunday evening is the dreariest of times. The rigours of scientific frontier-advancing come to a slow, though some battle-hardened warriors and the more enthusiastic of recruits are still at it. The canteen is closed causing the bulk of the population to forage in the city for nutrition; the few that are held back make do with whatever they can - FARAN*, Maggi, Mane Ootta or even fasting. Hedonism is somewhat discouraged with the prospect of Monday morning looming.

A cobra in the premises is a welcome scandal. The thought of a grey-scaled, slithering serpent, its fangs loaded with venom enriched by fanciful legend, is sufficient to enthrone fear into the deepest layers of the mind, even though a sighting is not actually reported. It is supposedly hiding in a clump of palms, watched over by a few boys, their curiosity just about balanced with fear. They're mounting guard over it, that no harm befall human or snake.

They have managed to keep the watchmen at bay, whose first and singular instinct would be to deliver a cruel and violent death by means of a stout pole. The idea instead is to summon a rescuer who will carry it away to safety. Invoke the image - khaki-clad, leather-booted individual, with black bag and crooked staff, who marches in ceremoniously, curls the reptile around the hook of his stick, and deftly deposits it into the black bag. Well, its a Sunday, and snake-rescuers are entitiled to Sunday sabbaths too.

The Sun isn't too pleased about Sunday evenings either; and his setting brings about further gloom. The cobra watchers disperse - the milk of human kindness isn't strong enough to buffer the action of cobra venom, injected by a panicky and frightened snake. Of course, the snake is frightened too. A human is at risk of death only if there is fang contact with a najan; for the latter, eye-contact with the former is enough for lethality.

Anyway the snake has moved away to some safer haven, and there is relief all over. The danger is past, especially for the fanged one. Yet, it is going to be one tremulous walk back to my room at midnight; even the horrors of cobra-bite are nothing compared to Monday-morning.

*Fun And Recreation At NCBS.


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