The poem “Night of the Scorpion” by Indian poet Nissim Ezekiel describes a child witnessing various people’s reactions to his mother’s stinging by a scorpion. In order to escape heavy rain, a scorpion enters his family’s tent, stings the narrator’s mother on the toe, and exits. Neighbors converge on the family’s home, try to seek out the scorpion (but to no avail), and then sit with the mother while she writhes in pain.
The neighbors interact with the family physically. They come into the family’s home “like swarms of flies” and try to help. They brandish countless candles and lanterns to light up the dark tent and root out the scorpion. When they can’t find it, they form a physical circle around the mother to create a vigil of support.
The neighbors provide psychological support to the mother and...
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