Monday, December 8, 2008

I Learn the Facts of Life.


Up until 12 years of age, I was a complete nerd. I had a head totally buried in books and that coupled with being in a very strict convent school made me a very goody-good girl. The type who when I see some now, make me want to pull their pigtails and pinch their fat cheeks black and blue. Believe me, until age 12, the poor nuns actually had me labeled as a candidate for a future nun. (Dear God, look what you missed! )

Being a bookworm, bright spark, and all that, the girls believed me implicitly when I declared in class that babies came out of the navel. How they got in there I hadn’t stopped to think, and no one thought to ask. The older ones scoffed, “of course they don’t,” but I was so convincing, (and had so often been proved right,) that they eventually began doubting their sources.

It was my mom’s red hen who finally taught me the facts of life. A real hen. The feathers and cackles type. (Google Rosemary Amle you’ll find an article in Indian Express, describing how I came to live with that same hen. Not too well written so don’t judge me by that one.)

The red hen was in the habit of coming into the verandah of the house and getting under the couch there. This couch was my hangout where I sprawled all hours, reading. Cleaning up under the couch which was a mess of school shoes and satchels, one day my mother discovered a clutch of eggs. So that was what the hen was doing there. The next time the red hen came cackling in to the verandah, I was ready for her. There was a convenient gap in the slats of the bottom of the couch from where I could look down without the hen seeing me; and lying there absolutely still, peering through the gap, I had a wonderful view of the red hen as she did her job.

Has anyone seen a hen laying an egg? Fascinating! In hindsight, it was just like having a baby except there was no blood and gore. And yes, I think it hurts the hen too. She was straining so much I could have wept for her if I had not been so engrossed in what was happening. The eggshell is soft as it comes out of the hen's butt and hardens when exposed to air. So that makes it somewhat easier, I think. (and hope.) The long and the short of the matter is that, I made the connection. (If eggs come out of a hen’s bottom, then babies….oh god, NO!)

The scales fell from my eyes. Watching the cocks chasing the hens I finally woke up to what was happening. Mom was wrong. The cocks weren't fighting the hens. Did Mom know that? Surely not. My friends said she did of course, how else were you born? Maybe immaculate conception, thought this devout Catholic girl. But the mind boggled at visualizing my mother as the Immaculate Virgin, so I concluded that perhaps Mom did know all about it. Then of course, finding the condom in Papa's jacket pocket when I was hunting for odd change, clinched the matter. Actually, I didn't know what it was. It looked like a chewing gum packet. Sonya, a classmate who never read a book if she could help it, explained that in detail and with diagrams, and also how it was to be used. (Like that? Oh, gross!!) So that's how I came to the end of innocence. A fat red hen started it and Mario Puzo's Godfather did the rest.


Don't forget the 25th of November. Professionals, do join the Professional Party of India and let's try to do something for the country. It is a party comprising of professionals only who want to work for the country. You can join online or write in at If anyone knows of any organization set up to control terrorism or manage our politicians, do post.

The Wicked

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