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The way it started

Only two decades past the horrific catastrophe of the first world war, Hitler set the world again on fire invading Poland. Great Britain declared the world war second on 3rd of September 1939. Blitz (Lightning war) operated by Luftwaffe (German air force) shattered the belief of every living being. Blood and smoke ruined the harmony of the sphere.

Somewhere near Liverpool, August 1940:

In the twilight hours, Rick called up for an emergency meeting. All the 10 pairs of eyes were gazing at him. With a straight expression he started, “You all are my responsibility and I care for you”. Liza nodded in affirmation sitting by his side.

“We have been living in here for a couple of years. But now, i don’t find this place to be safe anymore for us. So we will have to leave to the forests”. Everyone was befudelled at his blunt statement.

“But why”? Asked Mont in a wrangling inflaction. ” We are strangers to the woods. No one would accept us there”. Glancing at him Rick riposted, “Don’t you know what’s going on all around? Haven’t you heard of tim and his family? Are you that callow to not get it? Why am I doing all this”? Rage seeped through his words.

Mont had asked a wrong question at even a wrong time. Rick now ardously disclosed what he didn’t want to, “Till now we were free and safe in and around these human-habitats. We were thought to be their friends, their morning clocks. They also loved us.  Though we never opposed sharing our eggs. But now situations have changed”.

“They are killing each other. Slaughtering whatever comes to them. They are lacking food and resources. We can’t believe them anymore”.

“Although we are not the breed they depend on for their meals, but what if they don’t find any other option? They can’t be only on rabbits anymore. World is changing fast”. Leaning towards Mont he asked, “Do you all agree to be laying dead on their dinner plates, deep fried in oil, wrapped under spicy sausages”??

Horror crept among the little chicks. “Fried”? They burbled looking into each other’s eyes. Liza grappled tiny chicks under her fat tummy.

Pecking softly she dragged them to the corner full of cereals. “You are too small to understand these talks. Stay here and play. Nothing to worry”. She replied to an unasked question in Garry’s eyes and went back to join the discussion.

“Do you all agree to be laying dead on their dinner plates, deep fried in oil, wrapped under spicy sausages”??

Everyone nodded in agreement. Next morning they had to leave this shelter. 3 hens, 5 chicks and 3 roosters. Nothing much was there to pack. just few corn beads and some insects for the worst scenario. Next morning they all started to the woods. Rick, Liza, Mont, Lin, Ron, Lucky, garry, shiny, Ginny and duke….

Liza was too emotional leaving her home where she gave birth to her chicks, that she would have done anything to be there but Rick was right.There was violence all over. Humans killing humans and now hungry humans eating their pets.
On the way hens were quite and sad, but roosters were alert. They were stranger to the woods. Little chicks were enjoying, pecking in the sawdust, relishing small insects in soil and filling the voids of silence with silly questions every now and then. After an exhausting day of journey Rick declared a halt at the sunset.
Shiny: Do you know we are edibles?
Ginny: No,  we aren’t.
Shiny: Let me tell you. There was one of my friend whose family was slaughtered in front of his eyes. All the males got killed and…
Ginny: shut up you liar. Don’t scare me. They eat rabbits. We are their pets and they use a different breed of hens if they have to. I am not that small to be fooled.
Shiny: no really, that’s not a lie. Remember that yellow tailed family at the corner of our lane. One of their chick Rim was a friend of mine.
Ginny: Then tell me, why did they leave him alive?
Shiny: He was hiding under a basket when this all happened. All the males were killed in front of his eyes and the females were taken away somewhere.
Ginny: Really? Is that true?
Her eyes widened with fear.

A sharp screech alerted everyone. “Goldy is missing”, Liza screamed frightfully. “We all are here except her”. Tears rolles down wetting her fur.

Everyone started looking her around in a jiffy but no gain.

“Did you saw her on the way” Rick’s words trembled. “No, I didn’t notice her. I was so ..” Liza realized she had made the huge mistake. “Holy crap.  She told me last night, that she would not leave her eggs behind but wait for another week. I had an argument with her and then she agreed, sensing the seriousness of the situation. But she lied to me”,  groaned Liza.

Rick stomped in frustration. “How could one disobey the head? all this was only for her own good”. Gloominess plunged through his voice.

Mont: Let me go back and save her.
Lin: I will come with you.
Rick: No. I can’t risk your lives.
Lin: But, Goldy?
Rick: This is her fault. Now she will have to pay for it. We all will move forward tomorrow.
His acrid words turned his eyes heavy and red guessing the consequences of his own decision.
He stepped ahead to lead the group. Everyone followed him down their heads. But Mont didn’t move an inch. He had made up his mind.
Lucky was the last in herd. She turned back. Mont was standing there, still like a rock.Lucky whispered, “Why the hell are you doing this? She has created this all herself”? Mont pecked her neck with a clang, “i know what you feel for me lucky. But for now think her as your sister for god’s sake. What wrong is she doing saving her babies? What else a mother could do in such a condition”.
His voice turned poignant, “I am a male and still I am feeling this way, but you? I agree that you are helpless in front of Rick. I agree that he leads us, but what about the babies in those unhatched eggs? Don’t they belong to Rick”?

She couldn’t reply. All she had was a feeling of care that wanted Mont to be safe just alike what he wanted for Goldy…Mont had chosen his way. Rick headed towards the camp as sun was settling  down behind the giant shades of Delamere forests.

Mont started heading back towards the unsafe-zone. He was tired and sleepy, but he walked. With each passing hour, he was getting frail, but he walked. Turning sleeping sun awake from the very far end of the sky. Peeking through its rays crushing the droplets of fog though their glittery arrowheads. Spreading yellow lust over the grass tingling as tiny lights in festive nights.

He was reaching the human Colonies. Smoke leaching out of blasted buildings. Ruins of opulence scattered all over.

Few People were getting out of their house, heading towards the rashioned shops. While few to the woods. “Isn’t Delamere as well safe  for us now”? he blurbed out reaching the thin lane behind a crisp half shattered building.
He kept reaching from where he had started. Until a sharp squealing behind the wall broke his soul apart. He stood dead and silent there as he heard the last squawk before a hard whack over some hard surface. He visualized the scene on the other side. He guessed the voice.

He was clueless. The sole reason for him being there was lost. Why the hell had he travelled all the night… sleepless? to hear her last squeal? He asked to himself. There was no reply.He sat under the bark hole of a tree at the back side of the wall. Wall, that was watching his loved one’s dying on the other. He cried. Without voice. Without tears. He didn’t ever tell anyone that he loved her. Neither was he strong enough to lead the group nor he had guts to confess her feelings to her. But as he found her lost. He cried for her, one last time.

Sitting there for a while in agony he tried to clear his blurred vision, letting the tears come down. Cleared his throat choked up of salty water. His nerves were numb.

“Mont”..his name echoed through the walls of bark. As if goldy was there. His heart withered with sorrow.

Again it echoed, “Mont”.. this time the voice was right behind his neck. He turned around. Goldy was sitting next to him under the same hole. He was speechless. He carassed her with compassion. “I thought”… He stopped.

Goldy had never expected if anyone of the group would ever come back to her. She had chosen her eggs over anything in the world. “Oh Mont, why did you come back here”? Murmered goldy. Both entangled around each other. They shared the same epiphany now.

“Listen, we will have to shift the eggs to a safer place where nobody could see them. I have seen a bunch of bushes on the way where we can spend few days safely”, Mont suggested.

“But that’s not possible Mont. We can’t drag the nest so far”. Goldy cut him short. She had a genuine point.

They were left without a choice. Mont headed out. And soon he covered the opening of the bark with grass and  thin wooden shreds. Goldy couldn’t afford to leave her eggs. She kept brooding for the whole day. She could now sense the movements in the eggs beneath her. Life had invaded through the hard shells which would soon be flourished in front of her sight. She imagined her chicks playing and pecking over each other’s beak, hopping towards her.

Luckily all the eggs hatched in 4 more days of hardship. Mont and Goldy were on seventh heaven to see the chicks.

But pleasure comes with it’s own price. Soon the chicks started cheeping and moving around. Food requirements enhanced day by day. Goldy and Mont both started heading out in search of food.

One such day, when Goldy was reaching back to the bark, she noticed that someone was following her. She turned towards the other end of the lane. She didn’t want to disclose  her shelter. Footsteps were following her. She started squawking and clucking. But nothing helped. She tried to fly, but no worth.

Suddenly, she heard a grumping on the other side as the man turned around. So did Goldy. Mont was there. He signed her to reach back to chicks. She followed.

As soon as she entered the bark squawking and squeaking on the other side reached to an intensity that splited her soul. She sensed it. And soon it all silenced. Silence that kept crying inside her for long. Silence that echoed Mont’s last words repeatedly. “I love you Goldy”. His eyes were smiling in his toughest moments.
Silence that kept crying inside her for long.

He meant his love. There is nothing more one can do to prove it. And he did. Sacrificing himself..

Mother and chicks stayed inside the bark for few more days. Then one day they all headed out to the woods. To never come back…

Though goldy and her chicks saved their lives. So did Rick and his group, but thousands of others were not as lucky as them. They failed and got killed and eaten. Hens were imprisoned to lay eggs for human food and when they aged they also got slaughtered and fried or boiled…As per the eater’s wish.

Research developed a new breed, specially for food during WW2 named as Broiler chicken. Rabbits who were earlier meant to be the primary food in The UK, passed their crown to Chickens….Now they are our pets….

Just to mention,

This is a tale of love and life. Nothing to do with food at all. Food doesn’t talk or love… Does it??

Smriti Srivastava
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