Nakul huffed as he lugged the bucket toward the river.
“Why do I always have to fetch the water?”
The dusty path slowly wound its way downhill. A constant swarm of gnats nipped at the boy, further souring his mood. At first, he tried reasoning with them but realized their thirst and hunger made that impossible.
“It’s just when she’s about to do something interesting, too!”
The heavy bucket bounced annoyingly against his legs. He hoped it would leave a bruise, causing Indali to feel guilty.
“Don’t touch that, Nakul! Shh, Nakul! Back to work, Nakul! All she does is order me around.”
He had come to learn from Indali, but she hadn’t taught him anything as far as he was concerned. For months now, the woman merely lectured Nakul about responsibility and the danger of communicating with animals. He had tried to argue he couldn’t stop hearing what they said. Nonetheless, Indali insisted mastering his ability to tune out the surrounding wildlife’s constant chatter was important.
Nakul stared. The woman’s pupils were slitted like a snake.
The youth nodded.
“Why, Boy? Show you comprehend my meaning.”
He shifted apprehensively; surveying the cluttered hut. Nestled beneath the washbasin, an immense python lay curled upon itself. Seemingly attentive, the snake slowly blinked pronounced, round, brown eyes.
“Why are we and others like us damned?”
Nakul had fled home and everything he knew to escape death. He cursed those afraid of him. But, the animal speak he cherished.
“Every time I use the power; I lose a part of me.”
Keenly conscious of Indali’s piercing gaze, he subconsciously ran his tongue delicately over his teeth. The needle-sharp canines filled him with a sense of exhilaration.
“Nakul. You saved your life the day the cobra bit you. Most would have died. The price though was a fragment of your humanity.”