THE SNAKE AND THE MIRROR
By– Vaikom Muhammad Basheer
The humorous anecdote revolves around the theme of human vanity and fears and how they affect people. The narrator is a homoeopath doctor who is struggling with his poverty and sluggish practice. Nonetheless, he is vain about his looks with or without his moustache and beard and has the ambition of looking more and more handsome. He also hopes to marry and lead a happy life. Sudden arrival of a snake on the scene turns him pale with fear, but somehow he manages to keep his calm. Meanwhile, attracted by the mirror, the snake decides to ignore him. The narrator takes this opportunity to make good his escape. The snake appears to be almost as vain as the doctor himself. An allied theme in the story is how crises make people turn to God for help.
The story is appropriately titled “The Snake and the Mirror”, for it relates an incident in which a snake is so enamoured with its image in the mirror that it spares the life of the narrator. The entire action of the story revolves around the snake and the mirror. The main narrator, who is at the centre of the narrative until the snake appears, turns into a marginal element who is affected by the action instead of affecting it. He has to be thankful for the mirror that the snake spared his life. Had the snake bitten him, he would have surely died of fear and poison, for there was no medicine in his room for snake-bite.