A snake in the grass

A story about greed and danger by Bakri Alnajeeb

The lady had lived with her husband in the Emirates for five years now and she was beginning to miss her family at home; her brother, her sister, her aunt, her uncles, and her neighbors. Eventually, she decided that she would take a holiday and go back to visit them all.

She had a little daughter whom her family had not yet seen, so she asked her husband if they could all three go, but he said they were very busy at work and the best plan would be for her to go with their daughter, and he would follow in a few months’ time.

The lady bought gifts to take back for her family and was very happy preparing for the journey. When she and her daughter finally boarded the plane, she could think of nothing but her family and friends and how they would look like after all these years; her heart was beating with imagination of what she would find.

When she arrived in her country, it was late evening. But, to put her imagination at rest, she left the capital immediately, hiring a taxi at the airport. It would be two hours’ driving to her home town, about 150 miles away. While she was looking for a taxi, she recognized one of the drivers, a neighbor from her home town and a member of a well respected family. His father, she remembered, had an excellent reputation for his helpfulness and reliability. So she felt she could trust the son too and decided to choose him to drive her. But she didn’t realize that life can change a person!

Never mind, she went with him, herself, her daughter, and enough gifts and baggage to fill a lorry. They left the airport and the lady began asking the taxi man about his family in the home town they shared. Gradually the lights of the capital disappeared and other traffic began to decrease in number. They drove fast along a dark empty road, and the taxi man became more and more aware of how richly and provocatively the lady was dressed: gold earrings, gold necklace, gold bracelets and gold everything; she was basically wearing real gold.

When they were about half way home, the taxi man turned off the road saying he wanted to check his tyres. So the lady took the opportunity to get out of the car and go into the fields to relieve herself, but the taxi man came up behind her holding a metal rod from the bonnet of the car and demanding her gold. She tried to run away, but the taxi man pushed her into a deep ditch, and she was trapped there, at his mercy. At that moment he thought nothing of humanity, all he thought of was gold and the money he could walk away with. He looked around and found a huge rock which he was only just able to lift. With this, he planned to crush the lady’s head and kill her, motivated by sheer greed.

When he lifted up the rock, however, he disturbed a snake which had been sleeping beneath it. The snake flashed back at him, biting his leg and then encircling his body. He let out a scream and dropped the rock, which landed on his other leg and broke it. The snake’s poison took between ten and twenty minutes to work. During this time the lady remained in the ditch. Deep down there she was so powerless that she could not climb out, screaming with fear for herself and her little daughter. Unaware of the situation, the child, still sitting in the taxi, had moved across into the driver’s seat and was playing with the car’s headlights.

The lights going on and off in a car parked a little away from the road alerted a party of four young men in a car going in the other direction. They stopped and came across to see what was going on. The child, being on her own in the taxi, could tell them nothing, but when they heard screams from the field, they decided to go in search. The screams became more and more audible, and when they found the lady they quickly pulled her out of the ditch.

They found the taxi man too, but with the snake wrapped around his body. They took the body in the back of their car and went off, in two cars, to the lady’s home town. They went first to the local police station and reported the incident; they then went to visit the taxi man’s father. When they told him the story and offered him the body, the father disowned his son … refusing even to bury him.

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