Have you ever seen the python dance? I have not, although I once had the opportunity to do so. I didn’t want the python to “see” my heat shadow and begin to prey on me since it’s blessed with a good sense of sight even in the darkest night. I rather stayed back for news of its performance and pretentious dance steps.

One day as I travelled home, I was informed that the python would come to the village square.

“Python?” I asked inquisitively.

“Yes, python!” they replied.

I felt uneasy and wanted to know more. “What is it coming to do in our neighbourhood?”

“It’s coming to dance,” was yet another response.

“Dance?” I mumbled bemusedly. “Although people generally fear python, I do know that they avoid human beings. But why is it coming to mingle with the people?”

So I made up my mind to go to the village square the following day to watch the python perform and not be told the story afterwards.

My decision was met with stiff resistance from family and friends.

“Old boy, do you want to die?” they asked simultaneously.

I became more confused. “What has death to do with this? I want to go and see where the python is dancing tomorrow.”

They all looked at me with reservations. “Are you sure he hasn’t gone mad?” an elder among them queried.

“I wonder,” another quickly added.

“My son, stay indoors in the meantime. None of us will go there. We shall hear the news from others. Don’t be the palm frond used to measure the depth of water,” the elder finished with an Igbo adage amid an air of authority.

I’ve heard you,” I retorted grudgingly as I walked into my room aimlessly.

“A child cannot see what an elder who is sitting down could see even if he climbs an iroko tree,” I told myself while reflecting on the Igbo proverb.

I wanted to give the whole situation a thought but I couldn’t. The next thing I could hear was the voice of someone waking me up amid sobs.

“What is it?” I asked angrily.

“Our community has been sacked. Everybody is gone,” the person stammered.

“What are you insinuating?” I babbled.

“Everybody is dead,” she muffled.

“How come?” I interrogated.

“Just keep your ears to the ground,” she advised. “I’ll tell you everything that happened.”

“OK,” I said eagerly.

“My brother,” she began “the python has destroyed us. Since I was born, I’ve never seen a thing like this. When shall this injury heal?”

She broke down in tears and I quickly joined her, after frantic efforts to suppress the emotion earlier on. We cried and wailed and wept. We moaned and groaned. We screamed, we sobbed. No one came to our aid at last.  

The python was beating the drum itself as it performed round the village square.

As it danced pretentiously, it preys upon the spectators and captures one by striking and biting, usually followed by constriction.

Although different species of pythons exist, terrestrial pythons are regularly found near water and are proficient swimmers, but they hunt and eat almost exclusively on land.

Pythons eat mammals but they have also been known to swallow human beings.

They are cold-blooded and raise their body temperature by sunbathing; hence, the Igbo expression: “Kedu ka eke si anya anwu?” meaning how is it going?

I thank God for saving me at last. At least I was saved because I hearkened to the voice of the elder which is the voice of reason.

Have you ever seen the python dance? If yes, what was it like? Drop your answer in the Comments box below.

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