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I can’t believe I haven’t given Chintoo any space on Shail’s Nest. There have been no dearth of opportunities and yet I have fallen short. Unpardonable, that. So I have decided to rectify matters pronto, before Chintoo heads my way to take it up with me and in the process scare me half to death.

Chintoo was first caught on camera in 2014. He (or she) was relaxing beneath some freshly cut down banana tree components lying in the backyard. Luci was nosing around as dogs are wont to, but sprang back deftly like a deer sidestepping an incoming lion from an unexpected direction. Next, she did what a dog does best. She started barking. Danger! Danger! DANGER! Humans, stay alert. Do NOT come near! I got this.

But of course, she hadn’t.

Chintoo calmly slithered into a gap below a wall. Tchah, there dog. Watcha going to do now? Dog was naturally nonplussed. After running around for a while like a steam engine gone berserk, the dog gave up, peed on the banana tree components and came indoors.

Unfortunately, I missed all this drama. I have merely dramatized the bone dry version I heard from the L&M because that’s what bloggers do, right? Use imagination and words. That’s what we have in plenty when we are told interesting stories in the barest of details.

After a while, having lunched, the L&M and I decided to go and check the place where Chintoo had ensconced self. And what do we see? Chintoo cautiously peeping out to find out whether it was safe to be on its way! Luckily I had my camera, and was quick to capture the moment for posterity.

Since then we have been seeing Chintoo on and off. Well, of course we cannot claim for sure it is the original Chintoo. For all we know Chintoo’s family and friends are taking turns to visit. But we call them all Chintoo anyway.

For a long while there was no news of Chintoo at all until last week when (s)he was spotted in the garden in the morning by the L&M. But Chintoo promptly slithered over the wall and into the neighbor’s garden. Later on, while taking Luci out on a post- lunch walk, I pointed to the pots with the sunset-bell flower plant in them and were kept in a narrow space I had to cross to get to the other side, and told the L&M, ‘I am always worried there might be a snake lurking behind these po…….’

I stopped mid-sentence, mid-word, turned and ran as fast as I could to where the L&M was standing. What? asked the L&M. What?!!! What happened?!!! Unable to say a word, I pointed. Chintoo had come out from behind the pots while I was standing right next to them, and was now crawling away. Perhaps (s)he was miffed at the hiding place being found out. Or may be it was all a ploy to remind me to write the Chintoo story. 😉

P. S. The rat snake was named Chintoo by friends on Facebook when I shared updates about it.

© Shail Mohan 2019

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