22-28 July 2016 #818

Counting proverbial chickens before they hatch

Bibi Funyal

Of all the animals in our republic, the chicken gets the worst rap. We are rude to them in public, we defame them, and in the end, to rub salt into their wounds, we chop their heads off and eat them. Given all the bad press they get, domestic fowl should hire themselves a public relations consultant for a rebranding exercise.

We think chicken are cowards, not very strong in the brain department, have short attention spans, and are afflicted with a bad case of Attention Deficit Disorder. This is unfair. The Impeyan pheasant also has a fairly low IQ, and yet it has been declared our National Bird. Peacocks strut about as if they own the world, yet we hear nothing but praise for them. Ducks are daft too, but have a relatively better standing in the public arena.

To give chickens a complete makeover, we have to start with the negative proverbs about them that are derogatory and violent. From the proverbial Chicken Neck to calling the flight deck a cockpit, let’s face it: belittling Chicken Little comes naturally to us.  

In the era of political correctness and now that we are Federal Secular Republicans, we must rewrite proverbs about chickens and other creatures great and small:

‘Chicken have come home to roost’

Ever since Geoffrey Chaucer invented this adage in 1390, we have lived with the typo and have taken the proverb to mean that bad deeds come back to haunt those who commit them. Actually, what Chaucer meant to convey in his bad handwriting was this proverb: ‘Every chicken at some point in its life comes home to be roast.’

‘Don’t count your chickens before they are hatched’

This proverb was invented by Chairman Mao, who also concocted that other adverb: ‘You cannot make an omelette without breaking eggs.’ Our own Baddies put those two adages together, and updated it to suit the objective conditions for revolution in Nepal with: ‘You cannot make an omelette without first decapitating the chicken’. 

‘Which came first, the chicken or the egg?’

This is not exactly a proverb, but a scientific conundrum that has befuddled humankind ever since the Mini Ice Age. Finally, with advances in genetic engineering and with DNA analysis of fowl feathers preserved in amber in Sichuan, the truth can finally be revealed: it was neither the chicken nor the egg that came first, it was a hen.

‘Finding oneself between Scylla and Charybdis’ 

I have done a Google search and can find no one named either Scylla or Charybdis. Who on earth are they, and why should anyone be ensconced between these two ladies, if indeed they are ladies? Before it spreads any confusion, this proverb urgently needs to be altered to ‘Find oneself between India and China’ which means, basically, that we Nepalis of the male persuasion are having our gonads squeezed royally.  

‘Beggars can’t be choosers’ 

Oh yeah? Since when? Ever since this country overthrew the Rana Yoke and replaced it with Loktantra Yolk, we have been beggars and we never gave up our fundamental human right so that the Prime Minister’s Discretionary Fund can purloin 1.25 Corrodes of taxpayer’s moolah and hand it over to a 6-year-old fortune teller from Jhapa. We could have chosen to make this country great, but being beggars, we chose to ride horses instead. This proverb should therefore be altered to read: ‘Too many beggars spoil the broth’. 

‘Barking dogs seldom bite’ 

I know from past experience when walking at night past the Great Krishna Galli Garbage Stockpile, that this is 100% not true, and I have a gash in my shin to prove it. The really dangerous canines these days are in the Corruption Watchdog. Therefore, unless I hear a voice of dissent, this proverb shall henceforth be amended to read: ‘Let sleeping dogs keep telling lies, and have their day continuing to pretend they are man’s best friends’. 

‘Every ass loves to hear himself bray’ 

I have met a lot of asses in my life, but present company excluded, not one has been what you might call garrulous. Nary a syllable escaped their lips. This proverb is completely erroneous, misleading, and an insult to assdom. It should, without any hemming and hawing, be changed to: ‘An empty vessel is the devil’s workshop, and a Prime Minister can be led to the water but he can refuse to step down even if there is a No-Confidence Vote in parliament’. 

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