Odd-Even: A tale of one city

It was the best of times
It was the worst of times
The air was free to breathe
But there were rations on nursery rhymes

On odd days: ‘Humpty sat on a wall’
On even days: ‘Dumpty sat on a wall’
And it wasn’t OK to make both, Humpty and Dumpty,
Together have a great fall

It was the king’s wish
He said some have it all
Time, he said, for the have-nots
To show the haves some gall

The king was a serpent
Not a python named Kaa
But he was a constrictor too
The widely-feared Boa

Then came the Deluge
All came to Boa for refuge
He said, ‘Burn the bridges, burn the boats,
The haves own them, I have it from my notes’

‘How shall we escape, O king, with our children and wives?’
‘Don’t worry,’ he said, ‘a cat has nine lives’
The crowd stood bewildered; there were strange whispers
‘He-he,’ he said, ‘am I not the cat’s whiskers?’

The joke was lost; it didn’t hit the mark
Boa stared furious, he spat and he snarled
Then, ominously, he thundered, ‘I’ll build Boa’s Ark’

‘We shall all escape’
(At least the odd, if not the even)
‘But we’ll do it by public transport
It’s democratic; it’s the real even-steven’

Smoke from the boats made the town cough
The ark Boa built was also rough
It wasn’t very big; nobody said it was awesome
In fact, a kid pointed out it didn’t have a bottom

Then, the lots were drawn
It turned out there was space for just 67
‘How shall we go now,’ people clamoured
They numbered millions eleven

‘Don’t worry,’ said Boa, ‘I’ll test the waters first
And I’ll tell you what…’

‘Neither odd nor even,
Swim across with the guts of a demon,
Rich and poor alike:
It’s democratic, it’s even-steven’


Check out more odd-even rhymes:
*Odd-even: Memories of Marie Libertine
*Odd-even, with apologies to Robert Frost
*Tughlaq’s odd-even scheme

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