In our society there is a cult of youth and beauty. Nobody wants to be old and handicapped. Old age is something ugly and unattractive and it is usually an issue not interesting for young people. I belong to young generation that does not really pay attention to older people, unless they are our grandmothers.
However women, who walk on the streets next to us like ghosts, do exist. Women, who were raised during the WW2, fought in it, lost their beloved ones, they raised our parents and took care of us.
These women are usually lonely. They are old, retired. Their husbands are long dead. Sometimes the only thing that is left for them are their dogs or cats to fulfil the emptiness of life. They do take care of their dogs, they love them, feed them and take them for a walk.
Case studies for the “Hens” project are found in Poland, but in fact Hens are everywhere. Polish Hens are poor, the social system does not help to live a proper life. However they find some retreat in religion (Catholicism): they adore priests (roosters), go to church every Sunday and listen to catholic radio (Radio “Maryja”). Sometimes they visit their husbands´ grave. They do take care about their little flats full of memory and old furniture and their beloved dogs. The dog is usually the only living being around to talk to after the husband dies and the children are grown up. The dog is a true friend of the hen. The life of Hens has a slow rhythm… unless…
Unless… they get angry when they see a young person (chicken) sitting in a tram while all other seats are taken. Then their power comes and sometimes they become violent demanding the deserved place to sit down. They become angry when someone is saying something against their religious dogmas. They get angry when artists use religious symbols in their art. They push with their plastic bags while standing in a queue in a shop or on the market. They can become aggressive. Is it because they know they are not young anymore or because they look back at their lives are see it miserable? Because they didn’t receive enough appreciation for their hard work? Because they are lonely? Because they are poor and tired?
This is the common image of Hens. But who are Hens really?
It is an amazing and slowly forgotten world of another generation. It is worth to take a look while it is still here with us. Although the conflict between generations does exist and real aggression can be observed from both sides, old and young people, directed against each other. But it is openness and tolerance that we should have towards the others because while we get to know each other better there can be less problems and conflicts.