This is the story of a hen. Not any hen, and not any hen that you could imagine or hope to meet. Benazir was an intelligent hen. A powerful hen. A beautiful hen. A human friend kind of hen. My hen. My frhend, Benazir. My pet hen Benazir. She lived the same lifespan of a dog and I loved her in the same way that dog-owners love their pets. Benny was an Australorp, black feathers that shone an iridescent teal green in the light, black legs, that faded to scaley grey with age. She was a good Mama. She was a great ‘grubber’. When we dug the gardens in the early spring, and encountered innumerable quantities of squirming grubs in the soil Andrew and I would look at one another and say, “get Benny”, whereupon one of us would head to the henhouse calling “Benazir, Benazir”, and, she, immediately recognizing her tri-syllabic name, would come running to the door, glossy, fluffy, beautiful, eager, priveliaged. We’d scoop her and all her voluptuous featherdeness up in our arms and head to the garden, she, comfortable and confidant, thrusting her head forward and back, to our amusement, as if she were walking. Then, once placed on the ground, she would scratch and dig and gobble up the grubs in each planting hole, and then jump on my arm or next to it, cocking her head to look into my eyes for direction, ready for the next planting hole task, she’d jump back down and do it all over again.
When grub season was over, she’d come to the front door and knock on it with her beak. Once opened, she’d look up into our eyes with expectation, and we’d respond with bits of cheese (her favorite) or oatmeal or bread or, even, hard boiled eggs ( I know…weirdly cannibilistic). She’d crossed the threshold once or twice but knew this was not her place, and so remained on the entryway carpet waiting for a treat, even when she could clearly see me cooking in the kitchen, twenty paces away.
Benazir had a favorite place in a nook beneath our bedroom door to the outside. Full sun, dry, (perfect for dust baths), shaded, quiet; far from the madding crowd of the others chickens. When we would encounter Benazir there, we would say, “Hey Benazir, that’s a good Mama”….., which would elicit a soft cluck, in kind acknowledgement and acceptance of us; our human presence. Benny was a matriarch, a mother of a couple of broods, an overseer of others, and a friend of us.
Benazir, dear, sweet, creature. We loved you, we still do. Forgive us.
Goodbye, sweet thing, goodbye.