The door opens with a thud as Saif runs inside; he flings his school bag on the floor and asks: “How many?”
“Just four?” Saif says and his brow furrows in consternation. Now he opens the fridge and inspects the objects of his mathematical enquiry: four brown eggs sit smugly in the egg container. But they are just four!
Since the day my carnivorous family ate up Napoleon and his family, ten new hens have been living in the hen coop and carousing under the grape fruit and tangerine trees. And they lay eggs. While every Lilliputian is impressed with the mysterious feat that the hens are capable of, Saif is totally bewitched.
He sits for hours in front of the hen coop, observing the hens in a bid to find out how they manage to make eggs without any apparent exertion on their part. Added to this ponderous undertaking is another overriding concern: since there are ten hens, there should be ten eggs.
So when Saif comes in the afternoon and finds out that only four hens have been efficient enough to prepare the deliverables, he worries. The slack performance of the rest of the hens takes him to the hen coop where he tries to somehow take the lazy hens to task. He sits there, watching the hens, making them nervous and, perhaps, guilty as well. He keeps staring at them till every hen has gone inside her private ‘room’ and delivered. All this happens under his probing, rebuking stares.
Saif has now become expert at coaxing the lazy ones to do what has to be done. And the many hours of monitoring and supervising the egg laying operation have also enabled him to come up with a few facts about the mysterious doings of hens.
“When a hen decides to lay eggs, it goes inside the nest and sits there. The sitting time is spent in making an egg. When the hen is sure that it has made an egg, it stands up, squats, pushes its tale up, and releases the egg. The jubilant hen then leaves the nest and goes cluck, cluck, cluck. The other hens also join to announce the feat that has been accomplished,” Saif narrates the entire process.
Saif is awed by the entire spectacle. It’s a pity that with time Saif will lose his sense of wonder and the doings of hens will be become a mere label: eggs.