1. “HAS a snake ever coiled itself round any part of your body?A full-blooded cobra?” All of us fell silent. The question came from the homeopath. The topic came up when we were discussing snakes. We listened attentively as the doctor continued with his tale.
     It was a hot summer night; about ten o’clock. I had my meal at the restaurant and returned to my room. I heard a noise from above as I opened the door. The sound was a familiar one. One could say that the rats and I shared the room. I took out my box of matches and lighted the kerosene lamp on the table.
The story, "The Snake and the Mirror," is a narrative inside a narrative written by Vaikom Muhammad Basheer. A narrative inside a narrative, also known as an embedded narrative, is a literary device in which a character within a story becomes the narrator of a second story.
The story was originally written in the Malayalam language and was translated into English by V. Abdulla. The narrator (First narrator) had presented the narrative to the readers, which was told to him and some other people by a homoeopathic doctor who is the protagonist of the story (Second narrator).
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The Homeopathic Doctor
Homeopathy is a medical system that is based on the concept that the human body has the ability to heal itself. Plants and minerals are used in small amounts as medicine by those who practise it as, they think, it helps the body recover.
The story begins with the doctor's question, asking the author and members of his group whether any of them had ever been coiled by a cobra snake. The subject arose during a discussion about snakes between the narrator's group and the doctor. The word 'Cobra' made everyone in the narrator's group frightened. The doctor's query had an odd and serious appearance to it. Everyone remained quiet, expecting the doctor to continue the story.
The doctor then told them about an occurrence from his past. It was about ten o'clock on a hot summer night, and he was returning home from the restaurant. The doctor heard a noise from above as he opened the door to his room, but he didn't react because he was used to such a noise. Those noises were coming from the rats in the doctor's room. As the rats had been in the doctor's room for a long time, he was unconcerned about their noise. The doctor's room was dark, and so he lighted a kerosene lamp.
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Kerosene lamp
Meaning of difficult words:
Attentively Carefully, with lot of interest
National Council of Educational Research and Training (2006). Beehive. The Snake and the Mirror - Vaikom Muhammad Basheer (pp.56-60). Published at the Publication Division by the Secretary, National Council of Educational Research and Training, Sri Aurobindo Marg, New Delhi.