Wednesday, June 24, 2015


In a village, there lived a chicken called Kot. Kot was unlike his brothers and sisters. While they pecked at the earth searching for worms, insects and grains, Kot looked up and wondered what it all meant. He would go to his father and ask him what was there beyond the coop and the farmer's house, or what was the bright thing moving in the sky, or why the cow gave milk but hens didn't. His father simply ignored him- he was too busy finding worms, insects and grains. So he went to his mother and asked her. She yelled back at him and told him to stop worrying about such things and get busy finding worms, insects and grains. Kot asked her, "Why?" to which Kot's mother yelled at him once again.

Kot kept looking at the sky in speculation. Soon he started to grow lean and his mother was very worried. She repeatedly complained about him to his father. After a while, tired of the hen-pecking, quite literally, he decided to have a word with Kot. He went to him and said, "Kot, why don't you peck at the ground like the rest of us?". Kot asked him again, "Why ? The farmer already gives us seeds and grains. Why should we peck at the ground looking for worms and insects?" Kot's father said,"Oh! Do you think we peck at the ground looking for worms and insects?!", Kot said,"Of course, why else ?". Kot's father said, "Kot, let me tell you the real reason why we peck at the earth. You see, long ago, when there was no coop or farmer, all  living beings used to live on the ground. Soon, there was no space at all on the ground to live and all animals started fighting with each other over one another's space. Then a magical needle appeared in the sky and a voice said, 'If you pierce yourself with this needle, you will get the power to fly and you need not fight for space on the ground. You can live among the clouds and build your nests in the mountains'. The eagle pounced upon the needle and pierced itself with it. Immediately, it started flying high among the clouds just as the voice said. It gave the needle to the hawk, which also started flying but not as high as the eagle. One by one all the animals which wanted to fly pierced themselves with the needle and started flying happily. But they found that the power of the needle was gradually decreasing. When it came to the pigeon, they found that he could fly only very low and that too for only a short while. The pigeon passed it to the peacock. The peacock pierced itself and found that he could not even fly as high as a tree. In rage, he threw the needle away, instead of passing it to the hen, which was standing right behind the peacock. The hen too wanted to fly, but now he could not do that since the needle was lost. So, he started searching for it with his beak. To this day, we hens peck at the ground looking for that needle, not to search for worms and insects! If you really want to know what lies beyond the farmer's house and the hills, you should look for the needle, so that you can fly anywhere you want. Who knows, after lying around unused for all these ages, the needle would have got back its original power. You will be able to fly as high as the eagle. You would like that, wouldn't you?" 

Kot listened to him as if transfixed. The thought of flying among the clouds filled him with great enthusiasm. He immediately started pecking at the ground looking for the needle. He told this story to his brothers and sisters and they too started pecking at the ground hoping to fly as high as the eagle. As a result, they unearthed a lot of worms and insects which they unconsciously ate and became quite fat.

Now the farmer bred hens just for his family's needs. But when he saw such plump hens in his farm he decided to sell them to the butcher for he was sure that they would fetch him a hefty sum. So, one day he picked up Kot and all his brothers and sisters and took them in his truck to the market. Sitting in a cage in the truck, Kot felt very happy. He was moving so fast that he thought he was flying. He told himself that he might have found the needle without knowing about it. "Even the eagle might not fly so fast," he thought to himself.
But his happiness was short-lived. After sometime, the truck stopped and all the cages where stacked outside the butcher's shop. As expected the farmer got a hefty sum for the hens. Now, Kot and his brothers and sisters sat there in the cages failing to understand what was happening. Soon, they started hearing hens screaming. Kot asked a hen, who was in the cage below his, what was going on. The hen replied, "I don't know. The man there come here every now and then, takes one of us behind that little wall and we never see the hen again. All I know is that there is lot of blood."

A few days later, the butcher opened the cage and reached for Kot and his brother. His brother started to screech, "Brother, brother ! What is going to happen to us?" Kot had no answer. He was too stunned to say anything. The butcher took them behind the little wall. He tied Kot's legs and hung him upside down. He then took Kot's brother and placed his head on a block. All the while Kot's brother kept screaming. The butcher picked up a shiny object, raised his hand high and then brought it down swiftly. Kot saw his brother's head roll off. He then watched as the butcher cut his brother's legs, plucked off his wings, removed his innards and put him in a bag and give it to the man standing on the other side of the wall. Kot knew that it was his turn now. But the man on the other side signalled the butcher to stop. He had not expected to get so much meat from a single hen so he didn't want any more. So the butcher picked Kot and placed him back in his cage.

All his brothers and sisters asked him what he had seen and where their brother was. Kot could not speak for a while but then slowly told them what happened to all the hens. His siblings could not believe what they were hearing. They all started shouting at Kot. They blamed him for their fate. They said, "You spread lies and made us peck at the ground all the time. If we had not listened to you, we would have been at the farm with father and mother."

Soon the sun set and it was time to close the shop. The butcher placed all the cages inside the shop and brought the shutter down.

In the darkness, the hens grew even more scared. They fluttered their wings and tried desperately to move about but they couldn’t. They became even more angry at Kot and in rage one of his brothers pecked at him so hard that Kot began to bleed.

As he lay there losing blood, he realised that there could be one way in which he could set all his brother and sisters free. He said to them, "I know I have led you to this horrible fate. But if you listen to me one last time I assure you we can all be free."

The next morning when the butcher came to the shop, he saw blood running out from under the shutter. He opened the cage and found all the hens soaked in their own blood. They had pecked at one another until they all bled to death.

Kot and all his brothers and sisters were now truly free.

(The needle story I read long ago in Tinkle or some such place)

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