The Mark of Vishnu
– Khushwant Singh
“This is for the Kala Nag,” said Gunga Ram, pouring the milk into the saucer. “Every night I leave it outside the hole near the wall and it’s gone by the morning.” “Perhaps it is the cat,” we youngsters suggested.
“Cat!” said Gunga Ram with contempt. “No cat goes near that hole. Kala Nag lives there. As long as I give him milk, he will not bite anyone in this house. You can all go about with bare feet and play where you like.”
We were not having any patronage from Gunga Ram.
“You’re a stupid old Brahmin,” I said. “Don’t you know snakes don’t drink milk? At least one couldn’t drink a saucerful every day. The teacher told us that a snake eats only once in several days. We saw a grass snake which had just swallowed a frog. It stuck like a blob in its throat and took several days to dissolve and go down its tail. We’ve got dozens of them in the lab in methylated spirit. Why, last month the teacher bought one from a snake-charmer which could run both ways. It had another head with a pair of eyes at the tail. You should have seen the fun when it was put in the jar.
There wasn’t an empty one in the lab. So the teacher put it in one which had a Russels viper. He caught its two ends with a pair of forceps, dropped it in the jar, and quickly put the lid on. There was an absolute storm as it went round and round in the glass tearing the decayed viper into shreds.”