Saturday, November 05, 2005

The Snake Charmer -- A Story

There was a certain boy living in a village who once had gone to
a carnival where one of the attractions was a snake charmer. This snake charmer showed the audience a great time by inducing the snakes in his charge to do all manner of amazing feats. In fact, the tricks were so incredible that they appeared to border on acts of magic rather than some form of animal magnetism.

The young boy was completely enthralled with the show put on by the snake charmer and from that moment on wished to become the world's greatest tamer of snakes. Consequently, after the performance was over, the boy approached the snake charmer, who was quite old, with a proposition.

The boy said: "Sir, I have greatly admired your demonstration of skills during the show, and I would like you to teach me the secrets of your profession. I mean no disrespect, but, sir, you are advanced in years, and I have inquired about you. Among other things my investigation has uncovered that you are without any family, and, when I discovered this latter fact, I thought that, perhaps, you might be willing to pass on your knowledge to me if I promised to work for you during my period of apprenticeship.

"I am an orphan who has been living in the stables, doing whatever odd jobs are available to earn my keep. So, you see, there really is nothing tying me to this town, and if I must work for someone, I would just as soon be in your employment while I learn a trade in which I am deeply interested."

The old man smiled when he heard the boys words and replied: "I long have been looking for someone to whom I might pass on whatever little I know about the charming of snakes. I always had hoped that I might have a son or daughter to whom I could bequeath this knowledge, but, unfortunately, marriage and children have passed me by, yet, now, it seems we both are in need of one another, and, therefore, I accept your proposition."

For many years, the two traveled together, sometimes putting on their shows as independent tradesmen, and sometimes doing so in conjunction with carnivals that wandered from location to location. During these years, the two became very close and developed great affection for each other, the man serving as the father the boy never knew, and the boy being the son the man never had.

The man's knowledge about the charming of snakes was extensive. Nonetheless, the boy was very astute and paid close attention to everything the older man said and did. As a result, gradually, the boy absorbed every lesson his teacher had to offer.

In fact, the boy's interest in, and aptitude for, this profession was such that he began to excel his mentor in many ways. The old man could not have been happier if the boy were his own son.

More and more, the old man gave the boy, who was now a young man, top billing and was content to just do a few snake charming tricks here and there during the show. He preferred to watch his student go about the process of charming snakes for the young man was so skillful and graceful at his trade that the older man was filled
with pride and gratitude for having had the opportunity to pass on his knowledge to someone, as well as to have had such enjoyable, devoted company for the last decade.

Eventually, the young man became known far and wide as the greatest snake charmer in the world. The boyhood wish had been realized.

Soon, thereafter, the old man passed away. This greatly saddened the young man, but he was determined to keep the promise he had made to his teacher just prior to the latter's death.

More specifically, the young man had promised his teacher that he would not rest on his own already considerable laurels, and the young man would continue to learn all he could about the charming of snakes. As a result, the young man traveled far and wide, not only putting on exciting and amazing exhibitions of snake charming, but,
also, always looking for opportunities to enhance his knowledge and skills.

In one location, where the young man was conducting a number of number of shows, he happened to hear about some man who was described as being an individual of deep knowledge and wisdom. The young man decided to seek out this man of wisdom and see whether, or not, this person, about whom he had heard such wondrous tales, might be able to add to the young man's skills and knowledge in the area of charming snakes.

After chasing down a few leads, the young man finally discovered the whereabouts of the alleged wise man's residence. Next, he sought an audience with the man and was very happy when this was granted. The young man was told to return the next day at
noontime for some lunch.

The young man was so filled with the excitement of anticipation he hardly could sleep the whole night. For some unknown reason, the young man felt he might obtain some information or understanding during his meeting with the wise man that would help bring his skills to the perfection he long had sought.

The following day, at precisely noon, the young man knocked on the door of the indicated house. The door opened and the young man was escorted into a study where he was received by a friendly looking gentleman who was, maybe, ten years, or so, older than the snake charmer.

After exchanging pleasantries and a few pieces of life history, while eating a lunch which had been prepared, the slightly older man said: "I have gathered from some of my friends that you are billed as the World's Greatest Snake Charmer. Is that correct?"

The young man was proud of his skills but he also had some humility and, therefore, replied: "Well, I don?t know about being the world's greatest snake charmer, but in all my travels I have not come across anyone or heard of anyone who surpasses the knowledge which has been given to me by my teacher and which I have been able to augment with my own studies."

The host smiled and nodded his head approvingly. He said: "Do you think you could provide me with a demonstration, for, I must admit to not having witnessed such things in my life, and I would be grateful to you for filling in one of the many holes which populate my experience."

The snake charmer was somewhat hesitant and responded: "Well, I would love to comply with your kind request, but I don't have any snakes with me, and rather than merely use the snakes which I use in my show, perhaps, I should go out into the forest and obtain some truly wild snakes. This general region is rather infamous for the many species of poisonous snakes which inhabit the area, and I am sure that with a little effort, I could supply us with some useful specimens with which to demonstrate something of the nature of my profession."

The host accepted this idea, and the two agreed to meet the next morning at nine o'clock. So, the young man went off in search of the biggest and most poisonous snakes he could find.

For whatever reason, the young man had some difficulty in finding the species and size of snakes he would have preferred. Nonetheless, he was able to get a fair variety before nightfall, and he took his catch back to his lodging and prepared for his visit the next day.

When morning arrived, the young man collected together all he would need to provide a demonstration of his skills and knowledge. He, then, proceeded to return to the older man's residence at the appointed time.

Once, again, he was warmly received. After a brief conversation, while drinking tea, the older man asked: "Are you ready to give your demonstration? Should we adjoin to the patio, or can you do things right here?"

The snake charmer indicated: "Here is fine, unless, of course, you may have fears of some of these poisonous snakes escaping into your house."

The older man laughed and replied: "If you feel safe from them, then, I also feel safe from them. So, please, proceed."

The young man began to go about his trade. He went through his whole repertoire, and even added a few, new tricks which he had been working on recently.

After he was done, he placed all the snakes in protective baskets. After completing these tasks, he sat down.

The older man began: "Well, I am quite impressed with your skills, but, you know, I couldn't help noticing that the snakes you used were not all that big, and I also noticed that some of the region's more poisonous varieties were missing from the snakes with which you were working. Does it make any difference how big the snakes
are or how poisonous they are? Could you still charm them?"

The young man apologized and agreed with the older man that, yes, the snakes which had been used were not all that big and, yes, he had been hoping to find some particularly dangerous snakes, but due to time constraints had to cut his expedition of the previous evening short. He added, however: "In answer to your questions, neither the size of a snake, nor the virulence of its poison, makes any difference.
I would be able to charm any snake you might care to show me."

The older man considered the young man's reply and, then, said in a very loving way: "Well, let me tell you about a snake whose venom is so poisonous and whose size is so large that if you are able to tame that snake, you will be a real sage, and that snake is the ego."

No comments: