#Politics Opinion Staff Picks - Archived

The hen-house

Day 1
Their inane cackle filled the air
While the watchdog lazed,
One curious hen
Out the hen-house gazed.

She felt merry, she felt wonder
The world seemed better across the fence
Such was the lure, she hopped out;
Just as the wily fox looked askance.

With one swipe, the fox got the hen
And walked away unhurried
While the others in the pen
In alarm watched and worried.

Day 2

The fox, at first cautious,
Into the pen crept
Took away a hen
While the lazy dog slept.

Day 3

The fox took two,
With none to hinder his hide,
The hens rushed hither-tither
With no corners to hide.

Day 4

The fox came again
With another vulpine friend
More hens died, even more cowered
With no one to defend.

Day 5 morn

More four legged ones came
So much noise – the dog raised his head
He growled and rushed, teeth bared
The fox and his friends fled.

Day 5 eve

While the never-watchful dog
As always slept,
The ever-watchful foxes
On him leapt.

What struck him, he never knew
Into a deeper slumber, as he went.

Day 6

The farmer got a new dog –
Alert, brave, strong, big-size
The farmer knew not, but the foxes did
That his vice began with avarice

Loyalty warred with want – of a free prize
Why work so hard to defend the pen?

Day 7

The foxes came, and left with hens
Left the dog his share of the pen

Day 21

The number of hens went down to half
Then the farmer sat up and looked;
He saw all – the hens’ fear, the foxes’ laugh

The undutiful dog’s surplus food

He raised the bar, electrified the fence
Thrashed the dog to within an inch of his life
He told the hunters about the foxes.
A constant battle is rife.

Between man and fox, of might and wit
The man be the judiciary,
The watch-dog, law enforcers,
The foxes be the con-men

The helpless, soft targets here
Are the hens – the common men.

Unless hens evolve, to fight the fox
No recluse have they in store;
For, for a man, what cost is it
To lose a hen or more?

(illustration based on a work by Mark Hurwitt—contact mark@hurwittgraphics.com)

About the author

Smrithi Murthy


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