Vannamaddo was an old snake. He had lived many years in the mangroves, slithering in swamps and hammocks, scaring creatures big and small. With yellow and green spots all over, and a sinister shiny blue head, he intimidated most creatures who had nice coats of fur, shiny scales and even velvety green skin. Nobody looked anything like Vannamaddo, who had been voted the scariest and oddest creature in the swamplands.
He pretty much could eat anything he wanted, for he had wily ways of snatching tasty bait while sneaking up on them, dropping from an overhanging branch or slithering up them while they slept.
But as old agre crept up on him, his creeping became slower and his eyes a bit dim. He would only eat the most convenient things around him, not very tasty either. Besides, his appetite was no longer what it used to be. Lizards, snails, bugs, no longer were worth the effort of catching them and he mostly ate what flew into his mouth and not even chewing, just swallowing whatever it was.
The creatures who lived in the hammocks no longer feared old Vannamaddo. Although he was so old now, he did not like this lack of respect. He decided one fine summer morning, when dragonflies were abundant and he had had a good breakfast, that he would do something daring. He may have been old, but just because there was not much shine to his snakeskin anymore, there was plenty of pride in his snake heart.
The castle. That was his thought. The castle. Yes, believe it or not, there was a fine old castle built by an eccentric homo sapiens (that's people person to you), who decided to build a most lovely castle on top of a little sandbar near the water's edge.
After a few years of living there, the eccentric decided to leave. I was too hard to deal with the mosquitos and other flying bugs, especially the scorpions. He had heard rumors of a strange snake that local people told, but he had never seen it. Vannamaddo was not so foolish as to show himself to someone with two feet who did not look very tasty in the first place and also was covered with cloth that would mess up his digestion, for sure.
But after the eccentric left and nobody else seemed to move into the vacant castle, Vannamaddo decided it was time to become the new tenant. That way, he could gain the respect of the local creatures and the villagers down the road would have something to talk about.
As it turned out, he was not in shape to swim the distance to the castle. This was a big disappointment. He even tried to float there on a worm eaten log, but it got waterlogged, and Vannamaddo was embarrassed to fall off and hear the laughter of the little bugs nearby. They would surely crawl and fly back to the mangrove and tell everybody about how the once feared snake now couldn’t even stay on an old wooden log.
He became desperate to find a way to get to the castle. As many do when desperate, even including homo sapiens, they do sometimes foolish things. He decided to crawl into an underwater tunnel that he had once discovered when still young and a good swimmer. He could still hold his breath a long time and figured he could make it to bottom of the castle, since he had heard of secret tunnels and caves that the builder of the castle had made. It was true then, and it still holds true, that remote swamps and lonely islands have amazing communication systems, even though they may not have newspapers, radio, TV and no internet.
Vannamaddo knew all this, and was sure he would become so famous when he became the sole occupant of this grand castle, that they would come from all over to pay homage. Ah, the dreams of snakes can be grand indeed.
In the middle of a sleepless night, one of the curses of old age, he took a giant breath and slipped down into a pitch black yawning cave opening under the water. The water pulled and pulled and it seemed almost too easy to move along toward the little island where the castle stood. But he could hardly hold his breath anymore. Although he could not see it, for it was very dark, he could feel his head turning from blue to red and the yellow and green spots on his skin must surely have turned colors.
He was beginning to see spots in front of his snake eyes. That was not a good sign. When all seemed lost, suddenly, something pushed him upward. He found himself on the sandy shore of the castle. In the moonlight, it looked even more grand than in the daytime.
Within minutes, the dragonflies, mosquitoes and fireflies spread the news. By morning every creature, every villager, even those on the mainland miles away, were buzzing about how Vannamaddo was the new owner of the castle.
Today, after his breakfast of bluetail flies and flower nectar, he sits on a beautiful, curling driftwood branch and creatures of every kind come up to him and touch the tip of his tail. That is similar to shaking hands or bowing among some other creatures.
The moral of this tale is: Live your dream, no matter how foolish it may sound, especially if you are an old snake.