Baavla, the snake charmer

I gathered all of my attention and I focused them on him. Baavla’s fingers danced on his flute as he blew note after note. Asi swayed left and right and back and forth—moving to the rhythm of Baavla’s song. Baavla ended the show with a long, low note. Asi smoothly slid back inside her wicker basket and the small crowd that gathered to watch started to applaud. Some of them started to walk away back to their life, some reached inside their pockets for change and threw them our way. I hurriedly rush and picked the coins on the dusty ground.

“Stupid boy,” Baavla sharply hissed at me. “We have done this many times and many times you keep on forgetting what you need to do first.”

I stopped picking up the bronze coins. What did I forget? I looked at Baavla’s face—his wrinkled, brown face and his pepper gray mustache. His eyes then moved down, I followed his gaze and I saw the wicker basket. I knew what I had forgotten.

“I’m sorry Baavla,” I said to him. I picked up the lid and I carefully covered the basket.

“Do not forget boy!” Baavla said as he wrapped his flute with a white cloth. “The money is always last. What good is the money if Asi had ran away? What good is money if your flute was accidentally stepped on?”

“I’m sorry Baavla,” I said again.

“I always talk and you hear my words but you don’t listen,” he said sighing. He waved his hand—signaling me to go and pick up the coins.

We did well, I thought, as I picked up the last coin. All in all we had earned twenty bronze coins—enough for a meager afternoon lunch for the both of us.

I picked up Asi’s basket and together we made our way through the bustling market place and to a little food cart parked at the end. Baavla greeted the cook with a nod. I placed Asi’s wicker basket on the ground and I seated myself on one of the crate boxes. My eyes traced Baavla’s flute as he placed it on the counter.

The flute seemed to be resonating some sort of aura. It was as if it’s tempting me. Ever since I was a child, Baavla had fascinated me. I must have watched him for a thousand times already. The way he expertly blew soft sounding music and the way he made Asi danced. The way, when he was in a bad mood, he would produce a fast paced song and Asi would be in some sort of frenzy. I have always wanted to be like Baavla. My hands reached for the cloth covered flute. Baavla kept on talking with the burly cook. I unwrapped the flute. Mesmerized by the slick white surface, I ran my hand through the holes. Before I knew it, the flute was kissing my lips.

“What are you doing boy?” Baavla asked.

I got startled and I accidentally blew a long, loud note. Everything happened in a flash. By the corner of my eyes, I saw the lid flew from the wicker basket. With mouth opened wide, Asi leapt out of the basket and bit Baavla’s hand. I stared wide eyed as Baavla screamed. The cook shouted as well. Asi dropped to the ground and hissed and crawled on the dirt. Baavla held his wound and he looked at me. His wrinkled face was grimaced in pain and he was starting to perspire. The cook was shouting something at me but I couldn’t hear him. My eyes remained on Baavla as his body crumpled and fell down to the ground.