In the distance he could see a silhouette on yonder rocky hill
For the Parsee Tower of Silence was his aim
There the view of Pune City always gave him quite a thrill
For it made him feel fulfilled and glad he came.
Now the monsoon season greenery was present everywhere
Flame trees could be seen from where he stood
He’d take his lunch and drinking water, sit without a care
And read a book then pause to eat his food
‘Twas the middle of the thirties and the Raj controlled the land,
His parents had been there for many years,
But the push for independence could be felt on every hand
As the population shed their bitter tears
Servants always showed concern when Ralphie left the place
For danger lurked beyond the compound wall
So Mali followed secretly and wouldn’t show his face,
Awaiting there his Chota Sahib’s call
Sitting ‘neath the tower in appreciation glancing round,
Shivaji hill stood proudly to his left;
His attention was arrested by a movement on the ground
A cobra had emerged from rocky cleft.
Ralphie gazed at it in wonder it was beautiful to see,
The cobra swayed majestically and stared,
Then Chota Sahib was mesmerized had no desire to flee
He knew he should, but somehow wasn’t scared.
From hiding near the thorn tree Mali darted in to save
For Ralphie had no power to resist
He didn’t know this saviour Mali his assistance gave
‘Twas all a dream a pleasant vapour mist.
And modern Ralphies mesmerized by habits like this snake
Lack power to resist appealing charms,
Don’t recognize they’re in a fix ‘till health or family break,
Or modern saviours rescue in their arms.
“© Ian Grice 2014 all rights reserved”
While the poem is fictional it is based on a true story. I’ve met an expatriate in India who, as a boy, was mesmerized by a cobra and had to be forcibly rescued having lost his power to resist.
Mali. – Gardener
Parsee – Persian immigrants to India who follow prophet Zaorashtra. Tower of Silence is their burial tower.
Pune city – An important city on the Deccan Plateau southeast of Mumbai
Raj – The term used to describe British rulership of India
Chota Sahib – Little Master
Shivaji – was a great Indian hero of the Maratha Nation. Shivaji’s hill overlooking Pune has a temple