Photo credit: Kecia Spartin

“Listen, woman. I need this building. It’s in a prime location”, Ponrayan spat at Lakshmi. He owned liquor shops and was looking to expand.

“Sir, but the school?”

“Pah! Curses. Tell you what! I’ll give my land. Build your filthy school there.”

The proposed site was outside the village. Commute would become a huge problem for the children.

“You have till evening. I’ll get this building anyhow.”

The threat was real.

Lakshmi’s grandfather Muthukalai went to meet Ponrayan on her behalf. He was much revered in their tiny village. Within ten minutes Ponrayan dropped all his claims on the property.

That evening, Lakshmi and Muthukalai were sitting under the huge peepal tree in the school grounds. Muthukalai was engrossed with the branches.

“What happened, thatha?*”

Muthukalai smiled, “Look over there”. Up in the branches, a snake slithered towards a crow’s nest. “I told him that this site is home to few Komberi Mookans†.”

Lakshmi sniggered, “But, aren’t they non-venomous?”

He shrugged, “Well, Ponrayan would have known that if he had ever stepped inside a school.”

NOTES: * Thatha – Grandfather in the South Indian language of Tamil

Komberi Mookan – Dendrelaphis tristis (bronzeback or Daudin’s bronzeback) is a species of tree-snake found in South Asia

Myth – In rural parts of the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu, people believe that Komberi Mookans are very vengeful. If Mookans are wronged, according to belief, they extract their revenge by imparting a lethal bite and follow the corpse until they are buried or cremated.

Fact – Komberi Mookans are non-venomous and they prefer to live in trees. They prey on small birds and rodents.

Word Count: 175

This piece of fiction is in response to FFfAW Challenge 122 hosted by Priceless Joy.

You can add your entry and find other awesome entries here.

Update: I’m entering this piece for’s fiction/poetry challenge #325