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The apocalyptic hen.

In the little city of Tebalda, in Colombia, a hen laid an egg. So far, so good. Hens in Colombia lay eggs the same way as their colleagues the world over. It is not true that in honor of Columbus, they stand up to lay their eggs. The birth was normal: hen and egg are doing well. But an inscription was discovered, carved on the shell: "Last Judgement. Repent." This produced quite a stir. The parish of La Tebalda sent the egg with its message to the diocesan bishop. The egg is undergoing examination. It could be a joke; but what if it isn't? The people of La Tebalda are sure that the end of the world is nigh.

The truth is that we've gotten used to the idea that great revelations must be accompanied by lightning and trumpets, as they are in the movies. Meanwhile, God's last message might be on the egg you had for breakfast this morning--you just forgot to look. God also speaks to us elliptically. Why not by means of a hen's egg?

The hen is a creature of paradoxes. It gain-says the belief that neurosis is an acute form of intelligence. The hen is neurotic and stupid. It lives in a constant state of agitation, and yet it produces this deliberate and logical thing that is an egg, the most perfect shape known to the world until Natassia Kinski came along. It could be that hens have been trying to tell us something all these years. Rather than a means of proliferation, the egg might represent the hen's attempt to convey a message, and it was frustration that made her so nervous. Finally, in desperation, she gave up on visual communication and resorted to literature. The message of the Colombian hen could be the first communication of its kind in the world. She looked for something that would galvanize our attention immediately. Anything else--like "You have to listen to me. To be continued on the next egg."--wouldn't have had the same impact.

I don't know what's happening now in La Tebalda. I suppose they have the hen under observation. Has she laid another egg, or is she waiting for an answer first? If she did lay others, were they blank, or did they bear new messages? If so, what did they say?

"Take me to the Pope." "Call a meeting of the General Assembly of the Organization of American States, this is an emergency." "There's still time, repent, I say!" But I'm not sure my natural skepticism about irresistible literary vocations hasn't made me somewhat suspicious of the intentions of La Tebalda's hen. I imagine that, having gathered a crowd of scientists and religious authorities around her--in addition to curiosity seekers from all over the world, plus newspaper reporters and TV cameras--the hen is getting ready to issue a second message to mankind. Great expectations. Reverential awe. The hen looks around. She is strangely calm. She's finally done it, gotten the attention she's been looking for since the beginning of time. She stares into space. She cackles. The egg is laid. The hen's owner picks it up carefully, using his fingertips, and hands it to an official. Sensation! The TV cameras close in on the white surface, covered in tiny letters. It's a poem.

Ah, yes, I loved and I was loved By the herald of daw ...

A bad poem. The hen has no revelation to transmit, she just wants to express herself. And she's looking for a publisher.
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Title Annotation:satire
Author:Verissimo, Luis Fernando
Publication:Americas (English Edition)
Date:Jan 1, 1990
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