Tuesday, 7 August 2012

How Selfishia got Rid of Her Feathery Moustache

Selfihsia the selfish hen was unhappy. And understandably so. After all, having a feathery moustache is not the same thing as having a new hairdo or a brand new dress from a well-know boutique. She couldn’t flaunt it.    

It didn’t make her feel beautiful. It didn’t even make her feel like an ordinary hen with a few feathers missing. She felt feathery at the wrong places and this made her sad.

One day when she was crying and looking at her reflection in the puddle of water near the grape fruit tree, Kayseria strutted toward her.

“Selfhisha, I have clucked at the thought and have finally come up with a solution,” she said.

All the hens had been thinking about Selfishia’s moustache for a while now. There had been five meetings under the grape fruit tree to get Selfishia out of her predicament.

“Really!” Selfisha clucked loudly with hope. Hearing Selfishia’s loud cluck the others came trotting and gathered around her.

When the cluck cluck of excitement settled into a hush of expectation, Kayseria said:

“We can have the feather removed from Selfisha’s nose, but there is some risk involved. She could lose her life.”

“Lose my life? If I am dead what would I care whether I have a feather or a broom in my nose,” she said and started crying.

“Selfishia, stop being so melodramatic. And there is always a risk. In fact, being hen is in itself a risk. So listen. We can ask Miss Nosy the cat to help us.”

“What?” They all clucked so loudly that for the first time they were louder than the oh-so-loud Lilliputians.

Miss Nosy was the ginger brown and white cat who prowled in the land of Lilliputians. She was always lurking outside the hens’ cage trying to eavesdrop on their cluck cluck. She sat beside the cage during the most intimate, egg-laying moments of the hens. And  she mewed past the cage every day, stuck her nose inside the cage and rolled her eyes swiftly to figure out which hen laid which egg, how it was laid and when. This was the kind of cat she was. Nosy down to her curled white tail. So obviously, none of the hens were fond of her.

“But why would she help us?” Napoleon who had been standing quietly on one leg till then, asked.    
“Because she is nosy and nosy people like to help. This gives them a chance to poke their noses in other people’s affairs. It also gives them a chance to get a whiff of some of the well-kept secrets,” Kayseria said.

After a brief pause, Kayseria continued thus to outline her plan:

“We can promise Miss Nosy that we would tell her one of our secrets-for instance we can tell her who lays the biggest egg-and in return she can pull out the feather from Selfishia’s nose with her teeth. She has a bigger mouth and she also has teeth. However, because she has teeth and because Selfish’s head will almost be touching her mouth, there is a likelihood of a catastrophe. Selfishia’s head could end up in Miss Nosy’s mouth from where it can travel down to her stomach.”

“When my head is lying in Miss Nosy’s stomach, would it matter if it has a feather inside the nose or not?” Selfishia again started crying.

“Look Selfishia, we have to take this risk. We will all stand around you and Napoleon is sure to do all he can to protect you,” Kayseria said

After much deliberation, the hens decided to go by Kayseria’s plan. One afternoon, Miss Nosy was invited and was offered a secret in return for her help. Miss Nosy agreed happily. This is what she had always wanted: to be near the hens and learn their secrets.

The hens circled around Selfisha and asked Miss Nosy to do the work assigned to her. When Miss Nosy held the feather with her teeth, she almost faltered. Selfishia’s small head looked so appetizing. But Napoleon who was standing near the cat and looking at her ferociously, sensed her temptation and crowed loud and strong: Koo kara koooooon. Napoleon’s angry crowing managed to dispel Miss Nosy’s moment of temptation, and she pulled the feather from Selfisha’s nose.

The hens were jubilant, and there ensued loud clucking and crowing to mark the event.

Selfishia immediately went to look at herself in the puddle. There was no feather. Gleefully bobbing her head, she started singing and dancing.

And after a while, she began eyeing  each hen, trying to gauge which ones were about to lay eggs. She was planning to eat all of them.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

How Selfishia was Punished

Napoleon the rooster was worried. 

Selfishia had not mended her ways. Since the day they arrived at the land of Lilliputians, she had been eating not only her own eggs but also the ones laid by other hens.

One day he lectured her: 

“Selfisha, you will land in trouble. When you are a hen and people buy you and feed you day after day, it is for a reason. And the reason obviously is not to listen to your cluck, cluck, cluck. It is neither to do research on your eating habits.  One reason why humans keep you guys as pets is your eggs. The other, more sinister reason for you, is your flesh. And even your hennish commonsense can tell you that it is much better to give them your eggs than to end up in chicken burgers!”

Selfisha gave a silly vacant look to Napoleon as if instead of scolding her he had been discussing the relative (de) merits of different political parties in Pakistan.

Her silly shifty look irritated him and he crowed loudly to vent his anger, and decided he couldn’t do much about her eating preferences.

And one hot afternoon, the inevitable happened.

Napoleon was standing in the veranda, when he heard Selfishia’s name. The Lilliputians were telling someone about the vanishing eggs.

"It is Selfishia. I have seen her eating eggs," one of the Lilliputians was saying.

Napoleon peeped inside. A fierce looking woman was sitting with the Lilliputians. The women thought for a while and said, “I can teach her a lesson. I know how to fix egg-eating hens.” And she stood up with the confidence of a doctor who had performed complicated operations all her life and now was only being asked to remove a thorn from somebody’s big toe.

Napoleon trotted back to warn Selfishia. But the woman was soon inside the cage to get her. Napoleon tried to protect Selfisha, after all she was part of the family. But a rooster is no match to a woman who has made up her mind to teach some hen a lesson. In fact, nobody is any match to a woman who has decided to teach someone, anyone, a lesson.

The woman grabbed Selfishia, picked a feather lying in the cage and inserted it in the egg-eating hen’s nose. Poor Selfishia! She looked like a hen with a feathery moustache.

After the episode, all the hens gathered around Selfisha.

“You--- look--- funny.” Lazee Bayzee laughed, paused and then laughed again. She was so lazy she couldn’t even laugh or talk in one go. She had to stretch and rest before every word.

Chandni was sad and sat down to lay eggs. Laying eggs calmed her in difficult times.

“If only the woman had inserted a twig instead of a feather! I could have eaten it,” said Goatia.

A crow came and looked at Selfishia with surprise, and laughing maliciously started singing:

“A funny hen have I seen
Given a moustache because she was mean
A mean hen I have seen...”

Selfishia started crying and hid her face. “Now, even crows are making fun of me. I look like a freak,” she mumbled through her tears.

Napoleon crowed to frighten the crow away, and said: 

“Didn’t I tell you? Getting eggs shells instead of eggs is not the Lilliputians’ idea of fun. You were supposed to give them warm eggs, not brittle egg shells.”

Kayseria, who had been quiet till now, said angrily, “But Napoleon, this is not fair.”

Kayeria was the only one who called him Napoleon. Rests of the hens were more respectful. They addressed him as Sir Napo or Napo Gee. But Napoleon ignored his act of disrespect, treating it as yet another quirk of hers. Actually, he was secretly in awe of her un-hen-like brain.

Kayseria continued her diatribe: “These Lilliputians don’t always do what they are supposed to. They don’t talk. They scream and shriek. Has anyone ever put silencers in their throats? There should be some justice.”

Napoleon knew she had a point. The Lilliputians were really loud. In fact, his loudest crowing was merely a whisper when compared to their normal-talking-voice.  

“But what can we do,” he lifted his left leg, straightened his comb and bent down his neck to assume his thinking pose.

“Let’s sit together and ponder,” said Kayseria.

And they all huddled together under the tree near their cage, and started thinking.