Snow White's pecking order

  • Mahavir S Jagdev, Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
  • Updated: Nov 19, 2014 11:52 IST

During my childhood, we had a hen-pen at home. There were around a dozen birds in it. Every morning, I would open the pen to collect the eggs. The hens were in different shapes, sizes and colours; black, brown and multi-coloured. But the one that stood out was the pure white dominating one. I had named her Snow White. Once, she hatched some eggs and two lovely chicks were born.

All the hens were let out in the morning in the open and they would run around the garden throughout the day and return to the pen in the evening. Snow White took precautions while taking her chicks out in the open. The eagles were too eager to prey on them. Whenever there was an eagle close by, she would let out a warning squeak and the chicks would come running under her wings for protection. She taught them how to find worms in the soil and which herbs to eat. In the pen, the other hens sat cornered on one side, while her chicks were free to roam. So much so that the lone male in the flock would dare not come near them. The pecking order was strictly adhered to. Snow White had her aura and authority; she was possessive and caring about her chicks.

One day, we had gone out for a movie and forgot to usher the flock in their enclosure. On returning, I saw Snow White in the garage with her head hanging on a side. The two chicks, Higgly and Piggly, were sitting snug under her wings. There were blood stains on the walls, indicating a fight. A cat had attacked her family and Snow White had sacrificed her life protecting it. She was looking victorious even in her defeat. As I approached her, she gave me that one last look as if saying, "I am handing over my chicks to you. Please look after them. I tried my best to protect them." She collapsed, holding her head high with dignity.

My wife and I gave our best to our two daughters. She's a doting mother and a caring wife, guiding and protective, always sacrificing for the family. She was the first one to wake up in the morning and get the kids ready for school, pack their lunch and see them off. She was at the gate when the children returned in the afternoon and ensured they did their home work well before I returned from office so that we could sit down as a family and talk over a cup of tea. We ate dinner together before we got them into their night-suits and put them off to sleep. She was the last to go to bed after ensuring everyone was comfortable. We are indebted to her for keeping us together.

The lady of the house is the strongest pillar of the family and the values it stands for. The way my wife brought up our two daughters reminds me of Snow White.

This is a thank you note to all those women who sacrifice their lives for the family without expecting anything in return.

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