The Nagas

Hill Peoples of Northeast India

Project Introduction The Naga Database

book - 'Naga Path', by Ursula Graham Bower, published John Murray 1950

caption: Chapter nineteen. Dogs, Snakes and Leopards
caption: dangerous snakes
medium: books
person: Graham Bower/ Ursula
text: Occasional snakes, often but not invariably harmless, used to fall in the hot weather out of the bungalow rafters or hide themselves in holes about the place, but only once or twice were the encounters alarming. I was one day picking dead blooms off the zinnias in the little strip of flower-bed along the garden fence. The men loved flowers for their ears. Bathed and arrayed, they would wander at four o'clock along the bed, matching scarlet here with yellow there, and a touch of white to set the whole thing off, fitting the final bouquet - with squeezings and stretchings, and screwings-up of the face - into a distended earlobe. I grew cannas there, scarlet and yellow for them, and pinks and whites and flame-colours to please myself, with a front line of zinnias and white verbena. I was, as I have said, picking dead blooms off the zinnias, a thing Hozekiemba never troubled to do, when all of a sudden there was a sharp twitch, a smooth ripple, close by my hand, and I leapt a good yard and shouted for Namkia.
text: He came running, armed with a large hoe. I backed off out of the way, to the bungalow wall. He tiptoed carefully up until he found the snake - a long pit-viper, wound well into the clump - swung up the hoe, and brought it down in the most imperial welt, destroying the corner zinnia completely. As he swung it up again for a second blow, I saw the live and lashing remains of the snake fly off the blade and shoot through the air towards me. It was coming straight for my face - I hadn't time to duck. It hit the wall with a crack a foot from my head and fell on the ground, writhing. I made for the step and sat down, Namkia, when he came across, was most intrigued. Had it hit and bitten me, he remarked, it would have been a most unusual accident. He was quite proud, in a way, that he had nearly caused it.