24. January 2011 · Comments Off on Artur and the Cobra · Categories: B. Family Legends · Tags:

I shared a ground floor bathroom with my aunt Titi.  It had a window that looked straight down a narrow space between the back of the house and smooth rock that was the side of a cliff, which if you could scale would lead to a Buddhist monastery above and behind our house.  The window stayed open except during typhoons and cold spells.  No one had screens.

I was thirteen.  I opened the bathroom door and stepped inside.  On the floor under the window was what looked like a large pile of coiled garden hose.  Then it moved, slightly.  I held my breath.  Pretending to be not there, I carefully pulled back my leg, backed up and slammed the door shut.  I immediately broke two rules for ladylike behavior: Don’t raise your voice, and don’t run through the house.  “SNAKE!  SNAKE!” I screamed, “There’s a snake in my bathroom!”  Of course, I scared away the snake.

That night when the family gathered for dinner, they had a show and tell with a cobra’s head floating in a glass jar.   The snake I saw had terrified the kitchen staff, and my uncle Artur had caught and killed it.  Artur was our bachelor uncle and not a hunter.  Dancing in the night clubs was his kind of sport.   But the amahs held up the cobra head like a trophy.  Artur the Cobra Slayer!

Never mind trophy, the cobra head was valuable.  It followed the rest of the I- forget- how –many- feet- long snake to the Chinese apothecary.  The skin, the gallbladder, the meat, every last bit was used as medicine to heal people.

No wonder that was the only snake I ever saw around our house.






My uncle Artur


Comments closed.