The Three Snakes

Naputt Thiravorachai

© Copyright 2021 by Naputt Thiravorachai

Photo of a snake.

Over the course of my life I have encountered three different snakes, not to  mention various others. I do not know whether it is a stroke of luck to meet such interesting and exotic animals, or a series of unfortunate encounters. As a child, I grew up in my grandmotherís house. The house had a big garden out in front, which would become the area for the majority of my wildlife encounters. When I was a child of some age below 7, I came face to face with an enormous green python. It was in my grandmotherís garden, lazing about on the swing. I froze, not out of fear, but out of curiosity. At that age, I had only ever seen cartoon snakes and illustrations in books. Seeing a python the size of my dad in real life was extremely fascinating. Luckily, I made the smart decision to go tell my mother about the reptile in the garden. One phone call later, 5 men arrived, captured the snake in the bag, and left. My last memory of that snake was itís elongated body being bundled up into a cardboard coloured sack. 

I did not have such exciting encounters for a while, until 2007, when an entire swarm of butterflies decided to use the garden as a resting area. Oh what a swarm it was! Hundreds of Monarch butterflies fluttered through the air, hopping from flower to flower, resting on tree branches. Every inch of the garden was covered with butterflies, much like a fairytale kingdom in a movie. Of course being a child, I wanted to catch them and put them in jars. After learning about Charles Darwin in the comic book ďSandwalkĒ, the notion of butterflies in jars felt very adventurous. I released them afterwards of course, the 7 year old me was not very keen on seeing pretty butterflies die. Thinking back on it, Iím still not quite sure whether they were Monarch or Viceroy butterflies. Perhaps I will never know. They stayed in the garden for three days before proceeding to fly off, continuing on their long journey. 

A couple of months afterwards, a different kind of flying creature came visiting. After my morning jog, I discovered a bat sleeping in a tree. It was a short tree with a very bushy top, blocking most of the sun, making it an ideal sleeping place for a bat. It seemed tired and possibly injured. This was another one of my firsts. I highly appreciated being able to see a real bat up close in a tree. It had a small body with leathery wings. It hung onto a branch and slept very still, surrounded by shade. It looked fragile and cute, much like a small stuffed animal. I left it to sleep in peace for the morning. As evening arrived, I went back to the tree to check on my mammalian guest. The bat was still in the same spot as before. My mother cut a mango and some grapes and put it on a wooden chair below the tree. We hoped that it might feel better after eating some fruits. Only a partially eaten mango and several missing grapes remained in the morning.

Unfortunately, not all my animal encounters would be so nice. At 12 years of age I met a stray street dog. It was peeing at the cement driveway in front of my garden, marking it as his territory. This was no oneís pet, but a dog raised by the harsh alleyways of modern civilisation. Normally the garden would have a big gate in front, preventing stray dogs from entering, but some careless person had opted to leave it open that morning. For what seemed like a very long moment, I stared at the dogís eyes. It stared back at me. I thought about the broom on the other side of the garden. In that long instant, we both realised the rules of our game. Either I would run fast enough to get the broom as a weapon, or he would sink his canine jaws into me. I bolted across the garden, making a beeline for the wooden broom. My heart hammered in my chest, the sounds of my feet striking the ground, and the panting noises of my dogged pursuer. The panting sounds closed in on me, telling me that victory was in his jaws. I partially wondered how painful it would be to be mangled by a big dog. Fortunately, I made it to the broom before being bitten. I turned around with the broom in my grasp, ready to face my animal assailant. The tables were turned; I chased the dog all the way back across the garden and out onto the streets. Victory was mine. I made sure to wash his urine off with a garden hose, just to make it clear that this was my home and not his. I guess it goes to show that much like people, not every animal you meet is going to play nice.

Speaking of unfriendly animals, I met my second wild snake when I was 13. At the time, my family was moving out of my grandmotherís house. I was waiting on the front porch for my dadís car, when I saw some rustling within the bushes. Curiosity striking me again, I moved closer to investigate. As I approached the bushes, I saw a pile of pots. For an instant I saw a long scaly body with a beady brown eye. Both me and the snake were very surprised to see each other, prompting it to dart away immediately and making me jump back in surprise. I was rather concerned about having a small snake wander about in the garden, but found no trace of it afterwards. I would not encounter wild animals for a while after moving house.

My new home did not have a garden out in front, thus limiting my encounters to the occasional sparrow or monitor lizard that happened to cross my way. It would be until I went to Singapore that I would meet the aforementioned third snake. This being my latest memory, I have the most vivid recollection of it. At 16 years of age, I went to Singapore to visit some family friends. We went to walk on Bukit Timah hill. We split up into groups: I went with my sister and a close friend, Faith and Por. We went walking to the highest parts of the hill. On the path was a sign that told us about the wildlife living here. One of the depicted animals was an emerald coloured snake, whose exact species I have forgotten. Atop the path was a suspension bridge. We walked behind a female couple. Halfway across the bridge, the two ladies stopped, turning and whispering to one another in an excited fashion. With my younger companions in tow, I ventured up ahead to the couple to see what the fuss was. Three steps ahead there was a beautiful, light emerald green snake resting on the railing. It was looking around, trying to figure out where to go. You would think I would be tired of seeing snakes at this point, but deep down inside, I wanted to approach it. It was more vibrant than itís picture. Itís bright green scales blending in with the lush green background. It looked very calm in its habitat, like me when I lounge around on the sofa. I ushered Faith and Por ahead while I stood between them and the snake. The snake paid us no mind and kept resting on the bridge railing. Before leaving, I took some time to admire the snake. I am not one to take pictures, but I do believe that valuable memories should be remembered. Thus I took my time admiring the peaceful nature of that beautiful green snake, then continued walking along the hill path, leaving the fearful couple behind with the snake.

My name is Naputt Thiravorachai. I am at 20 years of age of Thai nationality, a student at Melbourne University, and a person doing their best to write. I grew up in Thailand for most of my life, spent two years in Melbourne studying, but returned home due to Covid-19. Most of my written works are for academic purposes, I have had no published works as of yet.

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