It was the first mass in the village where I was appointed as the parish priest. New chapel, new people, newbooks, new everything, was all making me too nervous.
Added to it, it was the first wedding ceremony I was to bless. Here, I was supposed to tie the couple and declare them committed forever.
It was ten past nine in my watch. I had arrived at the hall forty minutes early. I went up to the place, arranged the place and looked at the deserted road. There was no one.
However, a little later, crowds began pouring in. but it was so disheartening to see them occupying the back benches and clinging towards the wall and towards the window. The other windowless wall saw only a few children who were busy clattering among themselves.
The couple arrived and I welcomed them, it was perhaps a moment they had been longing for. The ceremony began. I saw people seated at one corner and it was a little strange.
However, just before the reading, a lady screeched and with that all heads turned back to see a large, black cobra crawling on the wall, making its way towards the roof. I got up to see the commotion. The cobra surprised me, yes, but there was another thing which baffled me more. The people had all shifted their places towards the windowless wall. All the ladies with tons of gold on them had instantly changed their places.
The cobra had more authority than me, I realized. Because it could harm, because it was venomous, because it was poisonous. I made my mind to change this. I had to do ascend the nature of the atrocious nature of the snake.
The cobra by now had reached a suitable height and the celebrations were all on amidst this confusion.
I saw the look on the face of the couple. I could read their faces. The boy who had a dashing look with his silver striped blazer began to wonder if God existed.
The girl was anxious about the people’s say. Although Catholic, many still believed in superstitions. And a snake crawling right in was a real bad omen.
The turmoil in my head was growing faster. As much as I shared in the Bridegroom’s doubt about the existence of God, I said a small prayer for everything to go on well. The more my small prayer was growing fervent, the more I could see the creature, cutting its way across towards the altar. But thankfully it was at the far end whereno one was seated.
No one was paying attention to the Eucharist; the summit of Christ’s infinite love. And my own mind was not at all in a frame to concentrate.
A sudden spirit took hold of me. “Enough” I said, “Pay attention everyone to what the Lord is saying. That’s just a snake.”
There was no one who did not sneer at me.
Anger engulfed me. I took my chair and kept it at a place right under where the cobra had taken a temporary stay.
People’s sneer filled faces, turned to faces filled with worry, presumable for me.
“This is the God’s house” I said, “let us proceed with the second reading, the snake came to tempt Adam and he gave into temptation. Let us see, if we follow Adam and fall into sin.”
I had spoken with audacity, but I wished I had even 1% of the courage which I had mentioned. My heart was somersaulting in my chest and my head was revolving faster than a planet. My palms were sweating and my feet were trembling. But I fixed my feet firmly on the ground and showed a brave face; the face of Napoleon going ahead to combat an army.
The cobra remained there till evening. I had claimed more authority than it could ever do with its animal instincts.
As I said a prayer in the night, I recalled the day. The marriage couple and their families had thanked me so much for taking charge in an unpredicted panicky situation.
Every time I call the people to the other side of the chapel now, I can see smiles on people’s faces. It makes me grateful to the evil which had entered in and produced an unknown courage in my heart.