Something told me…

I walked into the darkness flashing my torch light around. I needed to carry in the big kettle into the compound. I heard the hiss as I came out from the shade in the backyard. I flashed my torch wildly around but didn’t see anything.

My hands shook slightly from the panic I had when I heard the hiss. It’s probably nothing. I stood for few minutes assuring myself that I had overreacted.

I turned the flash in the position of the kettle and bent to pick a wood with which to carry it with. I did not want the soot accumulated over the years of using it on firewood to stain my hands. I picked the stick and got distracted with a creature crawling away.

I heard the hiss again and let out a gasp of fear, flashed the light to the direction of the hiss and saw it. It was there, head up like a cobra, watching me.

It had black scales with tints of glittering orange under. The body shone where the light hit it. It was focused on me as I was focused on it. It did not stir as I did not stir. I’ve been taught many times not be make sudden movements when in front of a wilder animal and I have heard several times that reptiles run first when they see a human.

This one was not moving. It instead hissed again. I held the wood in my hand tighter to hit it if it tried to attack me. Something told me it would not attack me.

When the something spoke to me, I stared at the serpent and wondered what it thought. Something told me to go closer to it. I moved my feet gently towards the reptile. It followed my feet but did not move. Something told me once more to get closer; an instruction I obeyed. Then, something told me to touch it.

I panicked. It couldn’t be a good advise. I imagined as I thought about all the what ifs relating to touching a snake. I reached out my hand slowly, looking into its eyes as I moved. It did not blink. It rather, tilted slowly its head towards my outstretched arm. I understood.

I touched its head slowly and it rubbed itself against my palm. I stroked it. Maybe I did or did not hear it hiss in acceptance, but this was the beginning of my friendship with the snake in my backyard—Kaduza.

©Ottih Onyedikachi

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