In India there is a special kind of wicker basket used by snake charmers. It is rather tall and narrow, with a lid, so that the snake, a deadly cobra, can emerge only by the will of its master.
So it is not hard to understand the initial concern felt by Sheela when she discovered such a basket on her veranda one rainy morning. She stood staring, not daring to move, or even to make a sound. For the first time in many weeks, since the death of her first-born, Sheela forgot to cry.
Slowly, carefully, she sat down on the ground, all the while keeping her bright black eyes on the basket, which was motionless. Perhaps it was just an empty container, sent by a gust of wind?
Then two things happened. Suddenly a great noise started in a nearby shrub--a conference of brightly coloured birds in loud disagreement--and the basket began to tremble slightly. Sheela’s lungs filled with air but no scream occurred. She began to move backwards towards the door of the house. Weakly she called out,
Sheela’s father-in-law, Krishna, a tall and vigorous man in his early middle years, came striding out and regarded the basket. He did not dare to touch it, however. Then a puny wailing was heard to come from the basket. Krishna stooped down and plucked off the lid. Inside was a tiny baby boy, propped up and protected by a pile of rags.
And this is how Amaru came to be introduced to the world.
It happened again, three years later, almost to the day. One morning, Sheela emerged from her room to enjoy the sunny veranda, and there, just near the wall, was a wicker basket of the kind used by snake charmers. She, still childless except for her beloved little Amaru, fell upon the basket with a great cry of joy. She was fatally bitten by the snake within. Thus Amaru, who started life as an orphan, once again found himself without a mother.