to 'The Taming of a Beggar' 25 March 2005)
man at the restaurant has just been served his meal.
'Waiter', he shouted with the two rawgs of his neck
gaining prominence, 'Why does my chicken have only one leg?'
The waiter remained calm and tried to appease the customer
by saying, 'Do you want to eat the chicken, sir, or dance
If that be fiction, it has now become the truth.
Indeed shoppers are now behaving more like would be fathers-in-law,
some insist, of the yesteryears. Debatable, but more on that
issue some other day.
Paranoia, you could say. And you could be forgiven for your
innocence, which may be the result of you not having read
the papers the past week, or for being a devout vegetarian.
'Please ask the chicken to walk', one buyer was heard telling
the vendor at New Market.
'My chicken cannot speak, sir', pleaded the man.
'Tell it in ishaara then,' was the man's departing
The man with the hem of his punjabi flowing beneath
his knees was more demanding. 'Can your chicken croon a line
or two from a song, any song, not that it has to be our sangeet,'
he put it so melodically and with such hand and body gestures
that the chickens began to get restless.
'I'll take two,' said the shilpi.
At Gulshan one Michael Jackson fan, not convinced after watching
Sky TV's daily reconstructions, and the forward walk of the
chicken, had even had a bet with a seller. 'Can it walk backwards?'
To put the misery and doubt of the customer at bay, and more
importantly to bring some of them back into the habit of eating
out, one owner put it up in black and white in front of his
restaurant in Mirpur, 'NO CHICKEN'.
On seeing the hung notice one paramour jubok turned
back swiftly on the steps leading up to the restaurant He
was held firmly and pulled back by his lady companion who
said angrily, 'Not you!'
The notice thing caught up, as is the culture in this country,
and one honest restaurant owner put up, 'We serve live chicken'.
People who noticed the singular form stayed away.
To meet demands of originality and plurality, another said
'Our chickens do not die'.
Another banner proclaimed on a rather religious note, 'Reincarnated
chickens available here'.
The matter had grown into one of such grave concern that a
large meeting was convened. Said one chicken of union parishad
level, 'There is no peace even after we die'.
'We have to try to do good things in this life and then only
we shall be properly slaughtered and consumed; otherwise it
is hell after death,' commented one representing the right
of the centre.
'We do nothing that much wrong,' defended a mahila
chicken, while making an 'S' with her eyebrows.
There were some sniggers in the chamber, but those were put
to a stop by a chicken pakhya worker. She was livid
with anger and made no pretence to hide it. 'You men think
only women shall be put into gunny bags after death. The way
you lot are going about your individual pieces shall be sent
The chair appealed for clam and invited proposals.
'Let us build more hospitals to curtail the mortality rate,'
'Nawww! The employees' union will take them over,' opposed
'Let us establish a cultural centre to teach our children
how to walk backwards, if that be the demand of the society,'
'Is this the way to hold on to our heritage barely 35 years
after our swadhinata?' yelled the opposition.
'Let us resort to falsehood. We shall pretend we are dead,
and when the customers make the queries we shall come alive,'
was one proposal.
The house burst into laughter. The chair silenced them by
showing a knife.
'Let him finish,' he said.
The prostabak went on, 'Thank you manoniyo
chicken. (Dips his beak into the bowl of water and takes a
dhok) So when customers shall know that chickens
which look dead are actually alive, they shall not know the
difference between life and death.'
'As if they know now' said an anonymous voice from the back.
There was more laughter, but not as loud as before.
The chair waved him on and the prostabak went on.
'They shall ultimately get tired of asking the seller to make
us do break dance…'
He pauses for laughter, but no one responds to his comic relief.
This was definitely a very serious matter.
'…And then they will buy dead chickens from the seller
thinking that they are alive. No chicken shall end up in a
gunny bag. There shall be no more humiliation.' He ended his
speech to a round of loud applause. Only the chickens that
had both legs stood up to give him a standing ovation.
'But the humans shall still be eating dead chicken' said one
when the noise subsided.
'Yes! But they will not know. It is the knowing that is upsetting
them' volunteered the chair.
'Chicken-o-chicken! You stumped me there. Now you are talking
like humans' said the inquirer.
There were lots of cheeping and tweeting of happiness all
After some more deliberation on the framing of the resolution
the meeting resolved in unison to live by falsification. This
was the decision of the chicken nation.
PS. In the media:
'Dead chickens being served in many hotels in the capital,
organised group involved, red-handed arrested' --Dainik Janakantha,
Dhaka, 29 March 2005
'Woman held with 21 dead fowls'--The Daily Star, Dhaka, 3
(R) thedailystar.net 2005