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Story Time: Skylar, snake or dove?

March 23, 2019

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Illustration by Ahmed Amin
Illustration by Ahmed Amin

There was once a horribly vicious snake named Cobracka, who was the king of all the snakes. He was one of the few snakes who had mastered the art of killing with a stare. Not only was the bite of this snake venomous, but so was its glance. He was able to ooze out poison from its eyes. He had killed over 4000 humans and animals so far.

On a dark and gloomy night, Cobracka had a baby whom he named Skylar. Cobracka hoped that Skylar would continue the tradition of viciousness that ran in the family. Snakes from all over the world came to celebrate the birth of his snakelet who was predicted to be the future king of snakes. The snakelet grew quickly and started going to snake school to learn tricks related to trapping and devouring preys.

After graduating from school with an outstanding score, Skylar went with his father for his first hunting lesson. Cobracka gave him endless rules and tips, and told him to begin by killing a bluebird that was resting peacefully in its nest. Skylar tried for endless hours but failed.

His father was shocked but he didn’t get angry at Skylar, thinking that it was just the first attempt. So the next day they went hunting again in the hope of better luck. Cobracka was extremely disappointed because for three consecutive days, Skylar killed no animal. Cobracka could not understand how someone with such a high academic score could score so badly in real life.

Cobracka was extremely disappointed because for three consecutive days, Skylar killed no animal. Cobracka could not understand how someone with such a high academic score could score so badly in real life

‘They only teach theory in snake school, they should start more practical classes,’ thought the disappointed father.

Years went by and when Skylar was not even able to kill a rat, Cobracka became very frustrated and the other snakes started to ridicule Skylar. What they did not understand was that every time Skylar went to hunt another animal, his heart and soul would become one with the prey and he was unable to kill another animal. Skylar confided to his mother that when he tried to kill another animal, he felt he was killing a part of himself.

When all hope had been lost, an old snake doctor was called to visit Skylar. After an internal examination, he told the father that Skylar was a snake who had no venom.

“But how is that possible!” said the father. “We are venomous snakes since generations and generations. We were born superior and our venom has never let us down. How can a son born in such a family be without venom?”

The wise snake doctor listened carefully and then remarked, “Stranger things have happened in the world and will continue to happen long after you and I are gone.”

Cobracka decided to throw his incompetent son out of his territory. His mother pleaded to let Skylar stay saying that he may die of starvation alone in the jungle, but the father did not seem to hear her. Fortunately for Skylar, the jungle contained only small animals and plenty of fruits and vegetables. As Skylar could not kill another animal, he became a vegetarian and discovered that fruits and vegetables tasted better than dead animals.

However, the animals in the jungle did not know Skylar’s secret and so ran away from him as soon as he tried to come near them. Skylar was lonely and depressed, and longed for the comfort of his mother’s lap.

One lovely summer’s morning, Skylar sat under an apple tree and cried long and hard. Just then he saw a baby dove being attacked by a vicious snake which happened to be Skylar’s father. Before Cobracka knew what was happening, Skylar grabbed the dove and hid behind a bush quickly. Although Skylar could not kill, he had learnt from his school lessons how to act quickly if danger was near. In fact, he was better at defending himself than any other snake. As his entire focus was on defense and not attack, so he was able to defend himself with perfect concentration.

So quick were Skylar’s reflexes that Cobracka did not even notice that the dove had been saved by his very own son. Luckily, Cobracka had not been very hungry so he went on his way, thinking that the dove had flown away somewhere. For if he had known Skylar had saved the dove, he would have killed them both then and there. But Skylar was too smart to be caught by anybody.

When Cobracka left, the dove’s mother came and was surprised when the baby dove told what happened to her to the mother. She was so grateful that she invited Skylar to her house. Soon the news spread in the animal kingdom and Skylar became friends with all innocent doves and other animals.

It so happened that even the snakes began to respect Skylar’s agile movements. He seemed to have an inexplicable aura of light which attracted animals from all over to meet him and learn the good ways of living life from him.

Skylar became even more famous than Cobracka, for while he did not attack animals he was able to communicate with all sorts of animals. He absorbed their worries and anxieties like a sponge and let out only light, no venom.

And so remains Skylar to this day deep in the jungles of Amazon, more cunning than a serpent and more innocent than a dove.

Published in Dawn, Young World, March 23rd, 2019