The Family Gets A Pet
The Family Gets A Pet5 mins 10.1K 5 mins 10.1K
“Can a hen be a pet”, my sister asked with curiosity.
I looked at her, unsure myself.
In front of us was the colorful chicken looking at us with her eyes rolling up and down and head steady. She had finished pecking the grains scattered on the terrace.
Dogs and cats for sure were pets. Cows I did not know but people often played with them. So also with young buffaloes. Pigeons were pets I knew for sure, as many in the village had them. Goats and lamb were played with too at times.
The question was complex.
She had been brought for dinner but festivals and incompatible days had let her live for three more days. In the last three days the chicken had bonded well with my little sister. She had no name as yet. Who gives a name to a nameless bird that is destined to be cooked?
Then that was my little sister, young and bold and thinking new.
“Let us call her Kujinaaki” she said.
“OK”, I replied, not to upset her.
For the next few hours she went round chasing her and playing and calling by her new name.
It seems the bird understood now she had a name. She responded to my little sister’s calls.
“No idea who will prepare the chicken”, Mom said from the kitchen.
“Should we eat it?” I shouted from the verandah.
“Ask your father”, she replied, still busy with the kitchen chores.
“OK. We will ask baba”, I told my sister.
“Look she is eating all the insects around”, my sister said as Kujinaaki, in her new avatar as a pest control agent had begun to catch the cockroaches around the house and swallow them.
“I never knew they eat cockroaches, I said, I always read they were fed grains and left to forage."
“Will it not be nice if she eats the cockroaches? Didi is so afraid of them,” my little sister asked.
“She surely will be,” I said. “Why don’t you call her and show her?”
Soon my elder sister joined in to see Kujinaaki at her job as pest control equipment.
“This will be nice to have”, my elder sister said, “but who will tell baba? I think he is bringing in a guest tonight!
My younger brother appeared from nowhere.
“Oh this is cool,” he remarked, “I do not have to crawl under the bed to kill the cockroaches”.
“Isn't she so nice and beautiful. Look how she is looking at me”, my younger sister looked at my younger brother in his eyes.
“Yes. I think she is. You know I did not want to eat her. It was only that baba wanted to bring in a guest. So I said yes, we will all have her for dinner. I think I like her too” and my younger brother slipped away.
“Did you hear that,” my sister came back to me. He will also not eat her. And Maa will not. I will not and you will not. And didi thinks she is better to catch cockroaches.”
Now the big question was whether she should be served on the table.
“Can you talk to baba?” she asked.
“I am scared”, I replied.
“What if we all go together?”’ She asked.
“What if we simply hid her till the guest left?” my younger brother who had returned back to see what was happening asked from behind me.
“Then what will the guest eat?” I asked. “And we cannot serve plain food to the guest.
“Maybe Maa can cook something special. I will ask her,” my elder sister said.
“Maa said we need some meat to be served. So what can she do?”
Let us buy some meat then for the guest and hide Kujinaaki till the guest leaves”, my younger brother said. “I think I have some money with me that I had saved.
“I too have a little,” my elder sister told.
Soon the small change had been piled up.
“Is this enough”, my younger sister asked.
“It should be enough to buy meat of one chicken. I can bring it. But we will not bring a chicken, just the meat home. Just hide Kujinaaki,” I said.
By this time Maa had come out and heard everything.
“No need to hide her. Leave her in the backyard. She will feel scared if forced to hide”, Maa said, “I will get some meat bought from market for the guest. You all can keep your money”.
My younger sister ran and hugged my mom.
Dinner was served soon. The guest left after a very sumptuous meal.
Suddenly we heard Kujinaaki cluck in the backyard.
“Looks like the neighbors hen has come into our backyard. Send her back”, baba said.
My little sister walked to my Dad.
“Baba I want something, please” she looked at him with a straight face.
“Yes beta”, tell me he said. He loved her the most.
“I want a chicken for pet”.
She said. I liked the one you bought.
“But we just ate her. We cannot get her back”, he said smiling.
“I will get you one from weekly market next week.
“No baba this one is good. I like her very much. Can I keep her?”
“Yes, if you find her, now let me sleep”, he replied.
Wait, she said, as she ran down the backdoor into the yard.
Soon she was screaming in the backyard and calling everyone.
As we gathered near her, she pointed to an oval thing in the corner.
Kujinaaki had laid her first egg.
Dad had also come out. A puzzled look was all over his face.
How is the chicken still here?’ he asked looking at mom.
Mom told the whole story.
My younger sister had grabbed Kujinaaki with a stern look on her face.
‘No I will not take her away, you can keep her”, Dad said as he returned to his bed, “do collect her eggs and you can eat them. They are good for your health.”
My sister nodded and smiled at the chicken. She seems to be nodding back at her. And the nodding continued for several years till my sister grew up and decided to send the chicken to a farmer for fostering. She lived her life for many years in the farm. The family had found their first pet.