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Night of the Scorpion

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Night of the Sorpion’ is a poignant poem that evokes the strong hold of superstition within our social psyche. Ezekiel recalls the night when his mother was stung by a scorpion. With the onset of the monsoons, the ten hours of warm and steady rains had compelled the mysterious scorpion to crawl into the house and hid itself beneath a sack of rice in the dark store room. Without any mercy, it raised up its lethal, venomous and diabolic tail and stung Ezekiel’s mother in one of her toes while she was busy in the store room unaware. Then it left her helpless in the dark store room and went out into the rain again. Almost all the peasants in the neighbourhood came in with a high spirit of concern. They entered the residence like swarm of flies and chanted loudly, the name of God for more than a hundred times to paralyze the evil sting of the scorpion.They came in with lanterns and candles and created giant shadows of the scorpion on the mud baked walls. They searched for him but he was not found.

They clicked their tongues and said that with every movement that the scorpion made, the venom moved in the mother’s blood. She laid at the centre of the of the floor of the room with the peasnts surrounding her. Their first chanted prayer was for the scorpin to remain still. Secondly, they chanted that her present suffering decrease the misfortunes of her next birth. Thirdly, that the sum of evil balanced in this unreal world against the sum of good become diminish by her pain. As the mother twisted, rolled around and groaning in pain, more neighbours came in with more lanterns and candles, while the rains show no signs of stopping. Ezekiel’s father on the other hand, is a man of science and he tried to create an antidote out of every powder, mixture, herb and hybrid plant.

He’s not superstitious and tried to treat the sting using a scientific method. He even poured a little paraffin on the bitten toe and lit a match to it. The flame was feeding on the mother’s toe and everybody in the room was watching it. The holy man was also performing his rites to tame the poison with the charms of an incantation. It enacted in elaborate detail, how people react under similar circumstances. Finally after twenty hours the venom of the sting lost its power. The mother was overjoyed with a huge sigh of relief. She only thanked God that the scorpion picked on her and spared her children. The reaction of the mother, which stresses her maternal feelings above all ritualistic practices, imbues the poem with a rare warmth.

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