Mr. Giggs sat perched on the high table in the middle of the barn deep in his thoughts. None of the other animals of the barn had the nerve to disturb his concentration when he was thinking. Some thought that he took the opportunity now and then to doze off, while others thought that he was really thinking.
But that day Mr. Giggs was presented with a strange problem by the inhabitants of the barn, in the remote village of Ulrikholm. Giggs was the wisest of them all, in fact animals as far as 100 miles from Ulrikholm thought so too. He was a 11 year old hefty cat almost the size of a mini panther and moved majestically in the barn and the surrounding farms. The gulls, owls, sparrows, pigeons and other birds frequently visited the barn for special discussions with Mr. Giggs. “Oh my! Giggs solves problems from other lands too”, Mrs. Cuckro the head-hen of the barn whispered to her other mates.
The master and mistress of the barn were visiting their neighbors and Mr. Giggs was the sole incharge of the property. As he finished his rounds for the day and was just about settling down for his nap, Spike (the 2 year old border collie), the naughty spikey as they called him around there, came running in and Mr. Giggs thought something caught fire in the barn, “Mr. Giggs! Mr. Giggs! there is a problem, Wuff Wuff Wuff!!! they are coming in Wuff Wuff Wuff!”. Mr. Giggs opened his left eye wide to tell Spike that he has his attention. “Purrrr….either you bark or you speak”, he closed his eye. “Sorry Mr. Giggs! the farm animals are coming, all of them to see you. There is a problem and they want you to resolve it. Benjie is leading them in here”, Spike quickly finished and went to his favorite place to watch the show.
“What is it today of all days, don’t you all have chores to tend do?”, Mr. Giggs commanded as he saw Benjie, the donkey and the other animals walking in and assembling around the high table. There was Neigha & Hoofty the Horses, Mrs. Cuckro and her friends, Mr. Murphy, the Rooster and his gang, Mr. Timble, the pig and his family, Mrs. Quaikey and Mr. Quaikey, the geese (and some friends), Mooya, the farm cow and her friends and the rat family. “We have this gathering when I call for it, on special occasions, what is this show all about?”, Mr. Giggs asked with a heavy voice. It almost sounded like a yawn to Mr. Timble who thought that Mr. Giggs slept most of his time.
“Mr. Giggs sir, we have a small problem”, Benjie opened the discussion, “Cunny, the crow came by this morning and started this…”, he tried to explain when Spikey shot up in his place “Wuff! Wuff! I saw him speaking to Hoofty & Neigha and then he also passed by the Quaikeys, Wuff! Wuff! and the word spread”. Mr. Giggs raised his paw gently to signal to Spike to calm down. “Oh stop being so slow Benjie! Mr. Giggs, we want you to resolve it now, else the barn will not be the same place again. We all feel that each one of us are perfect. We want you to tell us, who is the best of us all”, Mr. Timble rudely interrupted, as he always did in the barn.
There was a momentary silence, and Mr. Giggs still didn’t open his eyes. Someone, and Mrs. Quaikey thought it was the Timble family children, giggled and were immediated shusshed!
“Indeed! a strange problem, but why should it be a problem? Each one of you have work to do, get back to it”, Mr. Giggs tried to dismiss the discussion. “Look here pal, we respect your judgement and that’s why we are here. There are those Wilkinson birds waiting to hear from you and carry this message around. It is not just a casual question now anymore, it is the pride of this place at stake”, Neigha spoke. She was as old as Mr. Giggs and a good friend of him. Hoofty nodded in anticipation. “Mr. Giggs, we are the most disciplined of the lot and start off the day bringing this whole place alive every single day, it’s an easy call, we are the most perfect of all”, Mr. Murphy, the rooster spoke with his head held high. Mrs. Cuckro and her friends felt proud of him for his courage. “I could wake anyone up anytime in the day, wuff wuff wuff!”, Spikey pitched in.
“You know us, we are the toughest and strongest in the barn, even stronger than you Mr. Giggs, with all due respect. We pull the carriage and plough the land, we move heavy things around here”, Hoofty heavily tapped the ground with loud thuds. Spikey always liked the shiny horse shoe that Hoofty showed off. Mr. Giggs only purred heavily in response.
“Hang on to your horses will ya Hoof? ‘coz I am in the same room when you say that you pull things around here. I mean, who is the donkey around here? That’s me baby!”, Benjie couldn’t control himself as he remembered all the hard work he did during winter when Neigha and Hoofty were enjoying inside the barn. “No way in the world you are perfect, I am the mostest hardest working donkey on the planet, period”, he said, “don’t you think so Mr. Giggs sir, you appreciated me once for bringing you your food from next village…”
“Looks like there is no respect for the birds around here, who rains eggs in this place, huh, Benjie?”, it was not clear who from the group yelled. Mr. Timble ignored the comment and stepped forth with his heavy, round body swinging from side to side as he walked. He turned around to face them all with his back to Mr. Giggs who was watching silently. “I know it’s hard for you to see why I am perfect! I do things silently. We don’t boast around much here, but putting on weight is not an easy job, look at us folks”, he spoke to a loud applause from his family and friends. “What! I don’t get fed so much, I could eat more, wuff wuff wuff! only Mr. Giggs gets as much as…”, Spikey realized he was going too far as Mr. Giggs clearly looked upset with that remark. “Shut up Spikey!”, Mooya cried. “I got to speak up now, not that Mr. Giggs doesn’t know our contribution”, she said pointing to the large bowl of Mr. Giggs half filled with milk. Before she could proceed further, they heard footsteps in a hurry and saw Mr. Gregory, the goat and his family come rushing into the place. “All you guys ignored us, and you can’t be perfect just for that one reason, I would’ve called you if I were you, before this discussion began”, he was still panting. “And where is Woolman and his folks?”, he asked for the sheep that were grazing far from the barn and couldn’t join the discussion. “I can run to them and bring them in”, Spike offered. He quickly received a stern look from everyone.
The animals took turns explaining what they did and how it helped the farm and specific instances of how they were appreciated by Mr. Giggs. They were beginning to worry that this problem was tough even for Mr. Giggs to solve. The Wilkinson birds didn’t move, they were enjoying the scene.
Mr. Giggs lifted his heavy body and stood up in place. The room went silent as if someone hit the mute button on all of them. He stretched his hind legs and slowly went to his bowl to wet his tongue with fresh milk. Mooya felt proud and looked around, clearly this was a sign from Mr. Giggs that he thinks she was the best. He turned around and leapt to the top of the haystack that was adjacent to the window of the barn house. He looked out of the window to see that it was not time yet for their Master to return home. He then turned around to the animals and started speaking, “We are good at what we do, on most days and that’s what keeps things going…”, he said, “…but we all have our imperfections too…”. “Imp what?”, Benjie asked. “..erfections wuff wuff!”, Spike replied. “It means things which we don’t do so well”, Mrs. Cuckro chipped in.
“Spike has barking issues, he still doesn’t recognize friends until they get real close. Mr. Timble and his folks don’t mind not being clean. Mr. Murphy missed the clock multiple times and had to be reminded. The Quaikeys don’t mingle well with the others. Neigha and Hoofty have mood swings…”, Mr. Giggs continued. “We all have imperfections. Don’t you agree?”, he asked inspecting his milk bowl from a distance. “What about you Mr. Giggs sir?”, Benjie interrupted his gaze. “Me? I am sure each one of you will have something to talk about me as well…which you do in hushed voices…Mr. Giggs eats a lot, sleeps a lot eh Spike?”, Mr. Giggs spoke without looking at Benjie. “I saw you going over to the barn at the Milfords for some cheese the other day, wuff wuff wuff!”, Spikey replied and Hoofty hid his face between his legs as he suppressed a giggle.
“Purr purr purr!”, Mr. Giggs finally laughed, “Yes Spikey, you spy! I will have a word with you later”. “It is not the best of what we are that matters all the time. Of course it does and that’s why we all have a role to play. But it is our imperfections and how easy we make it for others to deal with them, that truly matters. You all wish Mr. Giggs were a different cat, and yet you respect me for what I am”, he said but everyone looked confused. “Mr. Giggs are you saying, it is ok to have faults and mess things up sometimes?”, the rooster asked with a sense of relief on his face. “No Murph, but when you do mess things up, how you help others deal with it and how you deal with them yourself makes the difference. Instead if you get into arguments and talk about how best you were before you messed something up, it helps no body. That’s what I meant by how you help others deal with your imperfections!”, Mr. Giggs tried to explain.
Spike couldn’t resist the question, “So Mr. Wuff wuff! oops sorry, Mr. Giggs, is it okay to accept the mistake and don’t worry about it. I couldn’t resist barking even if I see its a friend, it feels good, wuff wuff wuff!”. “I will have to speak to you in detail Spikey, this is a complicated subject for you to get it in one go. Can you run to the backyard and get me a snack?”, he sent Spike on a quick errand. He then turned to the others – “no, it is not ok just to accept the mistake and forget about it. Making it easy for others to deal with your imperfections means – telling them where you lack and taking help, accepting when you mess things up and seeking help to get better“, Mr. Giggs spoke slowly as he heard Spike running back. “You have fast legs Spikey!”, he appreciated him. Spike jumped up and down in place in excitement.
“But sir, you didn’t answer the question, who is the best of us all?”, Benjie asked as Mr. Giggs was beginning to chew on his snack. “I did! Whoever of you shares their…”, he was interrupted again by Spike “…imperfections…”. “Yes, thank you Spike, now calm down. Whoever shares their imperfections with others and ensures that their job and that of others is not interrupted, is the best one. Fly away Wilkinsons, go tell the others, we are imperfect separately, but together this farmhouse is the best!”, Mr. Giggs concluded.
“I can’t get up early if I get interrupted in the night by you Benjie”, Mr. Murphy couldn’t hide it any longer. “Sorry! I get nightmares and I yell in my sleep sometimes, I will move away from your place and sleep some other place”, the donkey replied. “Mare what?”, Hoofty asked in surprise. “He meant bad dreams”, clarified Neigha. Each of the animals explained their troubles to others and sought advice, as Mr. Giggs watched half smiling and half chewing at his snack. “I hear the Master and Mistress arrive, go welcome them Spikey”, he encouraged Spike. Spike shot off barking at the top of his voice in excitement.