THE NIGHT OF THE SCORPION
I remember the night my mother
was stung by a scorpion. Ten hours
of steady rain had driven him
to crawl beneath a sack of rice.
Parting with his poison - flash
of diabolic tail in the dark room -
he risked the rain again.
The peasants came like swarms of flies
and buzzed the name of God a hundred times
to paralyse the Evil One.
With candles and with lanterns
throwing giant scorpion shadows
on the mud-baked walls
they searched for him: he was not found.
They clicked their tongues.
With every movement that the scorpion made his poison moved in Mother's blood, they said.
May he sit still, they said
May the sins of your previous birth
be burned away tonight, they said.
May your suffering decrease
the misfortunes of your next birth, they said.
May the sum of all evil
balanced in this unreal world
against the sum of good
become diminished by your pain.
May the poison purify your flesh
of desire, and your spirit of ambition,
they said, and they sat around
on the floor with my mother in the centre,
the peace of understanding on each face.
More candles, more lanterns, more neighbours,
more insects, and the endless rain.
My mother twisted through and through,
groaning on a mat.
My father, sceptic, rationalist,
trying every curse and blessing,
powder, mixture, herb and hybrid.
He even poured a little paraffin
upon the bitten toe and put a match to it.
I watched the flame feeding on my mother.
I watched the holy man perform his rites to tame the poison with an incantation.
After twenty hours
it lost its sting.
My mother only said
Thank God the scorpion picked on me
And spared my children.
NIGHT OF THE SCORPION
The poem is about an incident. When there was steady rain a scorpion had crept into their house. It crawled behind a bag of rice. It stung his mother and went again into the rain. All the neighboring farmers came like swarms of bees. They uttered the names of God to minimize the movement of the Scorpion. They began to search for it with candles and lanterns. They could not find the scorpion.
They felt that the poison moved in his mother's veins with the movements of scorpion. They said that her sins of the earlier birth would be washed away with it and it would reduce the misfortunes of her next birth. They also felt that the sin gained in this birth would be diminished by this pain. They said that poison would purify her physical and spiritual ambition. His mother was pained as they were speaking. His father was a septic rationalist. He had been trying powders, herbs and mixtures. He even poured a little paraffin upon the bitten toe and put a match. But however after 24 hrs. the pain subsided. His mother thanked God, that the Scorpion spared stinging her children.