File this story under “Urban Jungle” as at first, in a city of six or seven million inhabitants, it sounds improbable. Tawn’s mother sent a text message to him breaking the news that one of the cats they take care of was killed and eaten by a python. Tawn called back and spoke to his father for the rest of the details.
Tawn’s parents have a bit of a menagerie with seven small dogs, three cats and several more strays that his mother puts food out for. The cat in question was a copper-colored kitten that had shown up a few months ago and was actually given his own cage in the house.
Friday morning, as was its habit, the kitten was out playing and exploring the yard as the maid did chores in the area. The maid left the yard for a few minutes and when she came back, she saw a two-meter long python wrapped around the kitten, suffocating it.
Alerted by the maid’s screams, Tawn’s father came out of the house to catch the snake with the kitten halfway in its mouth, trying to swallow it. He grabbed a stick and hit the snake, which then spit the kitten out and slithered away through a gap beneath the wall.
Sadly, the rescue came too late as the kitten was already dead. He was buried that afternoon in a corner of the property that has come to be their pet cemetery.
There’s an interesting back-story to this, though:
The neighborhood where Tawn’s parents live is fairly developed, but here in Thailand even developed areas have lush tropical foliage. The jungle is never that far away.
In September 2000, when Tawn and I had been dating for a half-year or so, I came back to Krungthep to visit him for his 25th birthday. Arriving late at night, I stayed at his parents’ house as they were out of town. In those days, there was a vacant property behind his house, an empty, overgrown field that Tawn’s father has since purchased and annexed.
Shortly after I fell asleep at about 2:00 am, there was a commotion outside. A large snake was found resting on the top of the wall between his parents’ house and the vacant land. Tawn summoned the police, who stood around talking about what lucky lottery numbers the arrival of this snake might symbolize, unsure of what else to do.
Eventually, one of the Chinese mutual aid societies, rescue squads of young men who volunteer to attend to accidents and who monitor police radio frequencies so as to rush to collect the bodies of the dead and injured, showed up to help. Two truckloads of young men, in fact. Eventually, someone got the idea to prod the snake with a stick and it slithered away. One young man helpfully suggested that if the snake returned, Tawn should call the zoo.
I slept through the whole ruckus but Tawn related the story to me the next morning, explaining that the arrival of the snake was seen as a good omen, because of the Thai belief that when smaller animals seek shelter at our home it is because we are seen as kind and generous to them. I assume this does not apply for mice, rats and cockroaches.