Snake in the Tree
Submitted by Zameer Andani, who lives in Vancouver, B.C.
My great-great-great-grandmother gave birth to a snake. It’s marked on our family tree with its own circled entry that says “SNAKE,” right amongst her six other offspring.
There are two different versions of my family’s snake legend. In the one I know best, she took care of the snake and treated it like her human children. One day, when the snake was grown up, it came home and said, “You’ve taken really good care of me and treated me like one of your own, so I will now bless your family and will ensure they will never die by a snake bite.”
In the other variant of this story, after my great-great-great-grandmother gave birth to the snake, it was cut into seven pieces. I’m not sure how the rest of that version goes, but both stories state that our family is protected from all encounters with snakes.
Since then, there have been numerous run-ins with snakes in my family. My dad encountered a black mamba, the deadliest snake in Africa, who was curled up at his feet while my dad was sleeping, and who did him no harm.
Another time, he put his foot in his shoe and there was a snake in it. The snake didn’t bite, it just slithered away.
My grandma, who lived in a place called Karonga (in northern Malawi), met a snake one night on a trip to the bathroom, which was located outside of the main house. Frightened, she ran in and got my grandfather. The snake peacefully went on its way and nobody was bitten.
Growing up in Malawi until the age of ten, I played with snakes often. I used to toss them around and look at their fangs. I never got bitten.