Mahtab Narsimhan


Suraj whimpered in his sleep and turned restlessly.

“Mother,” he whispered.

Tara stroked his forehead, shushing him. Her heart ached to see that even in his sleep, Suraj was troubled. She stroked his hair tenderly and Suraj stopped his restless tossing and turning.

At long last, she started to feel drowsy. As her eyelids drooped, she saw a slight movement on the mud-packed floor a few feet from where she lay. Her eyes widened and her sleep vanished in an instant, blood turning to ice as she sat bolt upright. A black cobra, the deadliest snake in India, uncoiled its length and raised its hood, ready to strike. In the bright moonlight, cobra and girl stared at each other in absolute silence, not a movement to betray that either was breathing.

Suddenly, the cobra lowered is hood and with lightning speed covered the last few feet between itself and the sleeping form of Suraj. It stopped next to Suraj and once again raised its hood, swaying menacingly from side to side.

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