Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Nag-Lok

The Serpent King reigns supreme over his serpentine underlings. Today he's leaving for home early after a lazy slither into the woods. He's deep in thought and didn't mind a squirrel or two that dared cross his path. The kingdom of snakes is powerful and fearsome, though its power is somewhat diminished due to the flourishing snake leather-goods business in the country and there's a talk that scorpions are making a come-back. The King is experienced, and knows the snakes will have their glory back. He still packs the same punch in his hisses and never fails to deliver his famous punchline after each kill - "No One Escapes the Nag!". But with The Rock choosing to play the Scorpion King, and Anaconda just played by a rubber prototype, the scorpions have renewed their chest-beating and jeering at passing snakes.
But all that doesn't worry the King as much as the latest wish of the Queen. You see, the queen is no ordinary snake. She may not be poisonous, but she's sure educated, being bred in a hole in the wall in the Municipal Primary School run by the bald headed teacher with torn shirt and broken spectacles. She can read english with a bit of effort and can tell the story of mary's little lamb. She even improvised it a bit to include a snake which gets the lamb in a thrilling climax to the story.
Last year when she went home to visit her ailing mother, she came back with a tale on her tail, in the form of a torn piece of a fairy tale book. She just finished reading the paper, and discovered a prince has been turned into a frog by the scheming Baba Yaga. Not much else she could figure out, as the jalebi around which the paper was wrapped, managed to smear the rest of the text. She dreamed about the prince for a few days, sighed and groaned something about fate and decided the frog would be a tasty meal to eat, if not to marry. So she went to the King and made her wish. The entire Nag-Lok is on the lookout for a talking frog for days, and hasn't found it yet. Interest is now waning among the ranks and there's a disturbing talk of revolt in the air. And the King is worried.
Like everyone else, he's had to deal with a bit of nagging at home. When she nags, she nags. You know! So deep in thought, he heads for home, praying to a Shiv-ling enroute to change the queen just a bit. All else is fine, she's a handsome creature, intelligent and loyal, but when she nags, she nags! The Shivling stares back at the King mutely, and his serpentine instincts remind him, even Lord Shiva is married and he probably knows how it is! Wrong God, thinks the King and decides to visit the Hanuman temple tomorrow.
The King, still on his way home, passes the house of the gray haired old potter, who's been so generous to the nag-lok by throwing away broken pots, which the snake-lords sell in real estate for premium. He stops for a while to see how the new designs are coming, for he too invests a bit in real estate on Queen's advice. The potter is trying to avoid his wife, who's nagging him about his pot-belly. 'Why don't you exercise and look fit? Look at the dhobi. He looks so young, though his wife is atleast 10 years elder to me!' The King sighs loudly, and slides away into the bush when he sees the alarmed potter and his wife grabbing a stick to chase him away.
The scorpions live in a pile of stones next to the pond and the King decides to pay their wise headman a visit. Though there's bad blood between their clans, poison is thicker than water and the King and the Headman are good friends. The Headman is immersed in deep thought when the King slides in. He greets him with a grave nod, and says, "The wife has been nagging me about getting a bigger house. She's a nice scorpion you know, with a pretty chain for tail, but when she nags, she stings! Say King, do you know a good pile of stones nearby?"
The King goes away thinking that the nag-lok is bigger than he thought. After all, in every man's life there is a nag coming from the wife. He crosses the pond and nears his home. A frog crosses his path, but seems to be in no hurry seeing the royal serpent. The King pauses, surprised, and the toad croaks, 'Hey King! Say, how do you manage to dance so well on full moon nights? The wife's been nagging me to learn some moves you know! I'm never the one to move an inch before a meal, but there's a new fad in the pond. They want to shake a leg before mealtime on saturdays and I'm in a fix. I could never dance even as a kid!' The King speaks in a low hissing tone. Nothing conspiratorial, that's his normal voice. 'Do you know me?'
'Ofcourse, old man! We know you very well in the pond. When any tadpole cries, the mama-frogs tells him to sleep or the Serpent King will come! I've heard that one a lot of times.'
The King draws himself fully and with a swift move grabs the frog before it could so much as wink. He looks at yet another member of the nag-lok lying still infront of him and says, 'Sorry brother, I know what it feels like to be nagged. I'd never kill a brother. But you are a talking toad, and the Queen has been nagging me about you.'
He pauses and the unconcious frog makes him philosophical. 'As I like to say after each kill, No One Escapes the Nag. Particularly if the nag comes from the wife!'

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