"Night of the scorpion" is a poem that can be understood at two levels at one level, the poet describes how, on a rainy day the narrator's mother is bitten by a scorpion and what are the chain reactions to it. At another level, it depicts the India ethos and cultured richness through a simple incident and epitomizes the typical Indian motherhood which depicts sacrifice and affection.
The narrator remembers the night when the scorpion had bitten his mother. The heavy rain had driven the scorpion to crawl under a sack of rice and unexpectedly had bitten his mother's toe; flashing its devilish tail and parting with its poison.
The peasants or villages came into their hut "like swarms of flies" to sympathize with the family. The neighbours buzzed the name of god hoping to paralyse the scorpion as they believed that if the mother moved the poison would spread. They searched for the scorpion with candles and lanterns. They clicked their tongues that the mother's sufferings may decrease "the misfortunes of her next birth". They also prayed that the sum of evil may be balanced in this unreal world against the sum of good that she had done. They prayed that the poison would purify her of her desires and ambitions.
All the people sat around, the mother in the centre, while she continued to groan and twist with pain, on the mat.
The narrators father who was normally a rationalist and a practical man, also gave in to the superstitious beliefs of the villages and joined them in their cursing and praying then putting a mixture of powders and herbs on her toe, a little paraffin on the bite and lit it with a match - hoping to burn the poison away. The narrator saw his mother's toe on fire and must have felt afraid. A holy man, the priest, performed some rites' to probably tame the poison. Only after (20) twenty hours did the poison subside the mother was relieved of the pain, and thanked god that the scorpion bit her and spared her children.
The poem thus brings out the mother's love and sacrificial thoughts - the maternal instinct, as well as beautifully describes the superstitions and ignorant practices followed by the villagers. The title of the poem thus is very deceptive, as it does not focus on the scorpion at all.