Snake Song is an incident that occurs in the Talkative Man’s life. He recounts an interesting and gripping anecdote to his friends when an argument starts about the difference between extraordinary music and mediocre music. The story unfolds with the Talkative Man having harbored ambitions of becoming a flautist and how it all came to an end. As per the traditional system of Gurushishya parampara, the Talkative Man, an orphan, had become the disciple of a famous music Guru. Just when he had mastered the art of playing the flute, an incident occurs in his life that shatters his dreams. One day, the Talkative Man turns away a hungry mendicant, as he is too busy practicing. The Mendicant loves the music, but goes away hunger — stricken cursing that this will be the last time the Talkative Man will ever play the flute. As the Talkative Man continue to practice the Punnaga Varali, the raga of the snakes, a real snake comes in and haunts him to continue playing non- stop till he drops out of sheer exhaustion. The Guru tells him that unless he manages to be forgiven by the mendicant he can never play the flute again. Thus ends the dreams of the Talkative Man of becoming a flutist.
The story, like all R.K. Narayan’s masterpieces, t ells us that ambition alone is not enough to master an art, but being humane and compassionate is equally important in achieving one’s goals in life.
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