I told the chicken to please wait until I finish the story. As it was quite tired of running around and crossing roads with me running after it to know why it was doing so,it felt happy to find some time for a well deserved rest !
Long long ago,in my childhood I had heard a story from my Dad.It was in Punjabi and was told in a hilarious coloquial Punjabi way,during a family get-to-gether probably in some marriage function when marriages were celebrated for full 4-5 days with the extended families present en masse and evenings were devoted to singing,dancing and story-telling etc.
I am translating it from memory but the fun will be lost to some extent,since the original Punjabi flavour ( we call it “tadka” ) will be missing ! I hope you will relish it !
The story goes like this :
In a small farmhouse somewhere in Punjab ( consider any town–Ludhiana,Phagwara,Jallandhar,Amritsar etc) there lived a farmer called Banta.He lived alone with his wife Banti, whom he loved very much.They had a chicken, whom they both also loved very much.By the way, Punjabis call a male chicken as “Kukkad” and a female one as “Kukkadi”!
“I love this chicken,” said Banta to Banti one day.
“Yes, I love her too,” said Banti.”She’s a nice chicken.”
“I’m going to write a poem on her”, said Banta.
“I’m not sure people would love poems on chickens,” Banti said, but his mind was already made up. Banta slogged on his poem for about two hours, since he had never tried writing a poem ever before.He didn’t know how bad his poem was. It went somewhat like this :
Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
You’re a great “kukkadi” (chicken) ,
Cock-a-doodle-doo. ( ” Kukkkadoo-kkaaddd-oooon ” )
Banta thought it was damn good,and he wrote it out in his best handwriting on a piece of paper and brought it to the kukkadi early the next morning, and set it down in front of her so she could read it.
The poor kukkadi looked at the poem with one eye, then the other. Then she hopped on the paper and scratched it with her talons, until it was nothing but shreds. Poor Banta frowned and walked away silently.He felt downhearted, but he was a person who never gave up easily.
Banta again said to his wife, “I love this kukkadi.”
“Yes, I love her too,” said Banti. “She’s a nice chicken.”
“By God, I’m going to write a poem for her” said Banta.
“But you did that already, and the blessed chicken scratched it all up” said Banti.
“That means my poem wasn’t good enough. I’ll write a better one this time” said Banta.
“I am still not sure people should write love poems for chickens,” she warned, but Banta’s mind was already made up.
He worked on his new poem for four hours. He had only written one poem before, so he didn’t know how stupid this one was. It went something like this :
Dearest kukkaddi,my lovely bird,
Love is not too strong a word
For the way I feel for you,
And hope you feel it for me too.
I love you more than I can say,
And even more each passing day.
Banta wrote it out neatly as before,brought it to the chicken the next morning and set it down before her,anxiously waiting for some signs of approval.
The chicken stared at the poem for a second. Then she pecked at it and pecked again and again, poking holes in the paper until every word was obliterated. Banta grimaced and walked away, choking back a sob.But Banta did not admit defeat so readily.
He said to his wife once again, “I love this chicken.”
“Yes, I love her too,” said Banti. “She’s a nice kukkaddi.
“I am going to write a love poem for her”,said Banta.
“But you did that twice already, and she tore ’em both up” said Banti.
“That just means the two earlier poems weren’t good enough. I’ll write a better poem this time.”
“I’m pretty sure people shouldn’t write love poems for chickens,”Banti scolded, but Banta’s mind was already made up.
Mr.Banta worked hard on this third poem for three full days. He had only written two poems before, so he didn’t know how good this third one was.
It was, as a matter of fact, the greatest love poem ever written by anyone in the whole history of poetry in Punjab. It went something like this:
As grains in the cornfield, for thee have I shucked,
Words of love do I offer, you of praise and renown,
Winged yet earthbound, as seraphs cast down,
To thee have I whispered, to me hast thou clucked.
Pulchritudinous poultry, from beak to thy legs,
To gaze at thy galliform soul is to sing
Of the unbested arm and the untested wing;
I toast thy fowl beauty as I toast thy fresh eggs.
Say not love is folly ‘twixt chickens and men;
For hath not my heart forged a bond with thy breast?
Yea, a thick bond, which thickens, like mud in a nest,
And quickens my pulse for thou pullet, thou hen.
O kukkaddi, surpassing the swallow or dove,
As thou swallow my corn, spurn not my love.
Banta finished writing it just as the sun came up on the fifth day. He brought it to the chicken, and bowed low as he placed the parchment before her.
The chicken looked at the poem for almost a minute. Then she clucked musically, and the Banta’s heart filled with joy.
Then she turned around, and pooped right onto the sonnet. She defecated again, and again, until every word was smothered in chicken droppings. Mr.Banta stumbled back to the house.He could barely see, for there were tears in his eyes.
That night,Banta said to his wife, “I love this chicken.”
“Mmm, so do I,”agreed Banti. “May I have the other legpiece please?”
We all had laughed heartily at this sudden end of the story !!
Ending the story, my Dad had said : Is there a moral ? Yes.there is a moral.Yesterday, I caught my son and daughter mistreating their books, throwing them against the wall and at each other.So I took away their books for a day as punishment. I usually read a storybook to them every night at bedtime, but last night I couldn’t, so I made up this kukkadi’s story to tell them instead.
The moral I intended to pass on to them was, when someone who loves you gives you something, you should treat it with respect, lest you hurt the feelings of your loved ones.
I am not sure whether the moral penetrated into their chicken heads or not ! Unfortunately,my children liked the story so much, they don’t want their books back yet.
“What am I to do now”,exclaimed my Dad !
Dear Readers,can you help me out,please …..!!
The curious chicken who had waited in the wings to listen to this strange poetical story of someone from her family tree,clucked with delight but it was hoping that its fate not would not be the same as the one which landed on the dining table of Mr Banta and Mrs.Banti.So,it started running again and tried crossing another road with me pursuing her like a man possessed. What happened next ? Wait for the next part please ! Cluck ! Cluck! Cluck !