The Chicken Diaries
“I am ready to go now.” you announce. Your bag is packed, to be honest there wasn’t much to pack anyway, you simply gathered your change of clothes and toiletries then stuffed them into your backpack satchel. You pride yourself in being an extremely light traveller.
“Already? Dinner is almost ready you cant leave without eating, we even killed a chicken” Aunt insists that you stay and eat. Chickens are a prized currency and one needs a good excuse to have one for dinner especially the limited edition batch of chickens with the bald heads, those are only killed when you have special visitors; feeling guilty at the honour bestowed and not wanting to be the one who deny them their reason to dine on fine poultry cuisine, you acquiesce.
“Don’t worry dinner will be served soon” aunty reassures you after she notices you sneak a glance towards your watch. “Let me just go and check on the progress in the kitchen. Please sit. I’ll ask your cousin to bring you a soft drink while you wait.”
You can hear her speaking in hushed tones, telling her children to stop being lazy, that the cooking fire has not yet been lit, can someone gather sticks of firewood kindling.
Meanwhile the chicken is busy trying to escape its fate, apparently they can sense these things, it does not wish for the honour of being an invited guest to the dinner table, being the main meal……
Eventually dinner is served. A scrumptious meal that more than makes up for the lateness of the time and also grateful for the darkness, in the candle light no one looks at the obscenely huge piece of chicken that was dished for you. You tried to get something smaller but you were out-voted besides you are the guest. They insist they eat chicken all the time, they might as well have feathers growing out. You know it’s a lie, no matter how many chickens you eat you wont grow chicken feathers and of course they don’t eat chicken as frequently as they claim but you are a considerate guest you let them convince you.
By the time dinner pleasantries are done its quite late and dark outside, any chances of travelling have set with the sun. You tried to argue that you really had to go, and they in turn brought out the big guns, telling you the horror stories that have befallen night travellers, from the mysterious ghostly flames that erupt for no reason without explanation, to the recent spat of muggings and robberies capped with the headless corpse that was discovered just a few weeks back…….
“Better safe than sorry.” Aunty declares putting an end to any of the feeble resistance you were offering of why you must leave tonight “Its not like anyone is chasing you away, you can go tomorrow, I’ll wake you up at the crack of dawn, and you can catch the first bus back to the city.” And that settles everything.
KUKURIGORIGO that’s what it sounds like when a rooster does its morning crow.
The crack of dawn begins at 3.15 in the morning. That’s when the rooster first crows, every morning at 3.15 then at 4.15 and finally at 5.15 it’s like clockwork you don’t even need to set an alarm.
Once more, you are up again and ready to go right now, all you need is the green light. Bags already packed or rather you never unpacked, perks of being a light traveller. Everyone else eventually wakes surprised to see that you are all set to leave. First thing first though you cant leave on an empty stomach, so you have to endure breakfast. Fortunately they don’t have to cook the chicken, simply reheating pieces left over from last night coupled with a portion of scrambled eggs and a flame boiled cup of tea with its unmissable smoky flavor.
Finally you say your goodbyes and stand up to leave.
“Wait” aunt stops you “We have present for you, since you loved the chicken so much we decided to give you a live one to take with you to the big city”
You try to politely decline, she adamantly insists and her will is stronger; soon everyone is outside chasing the chicken that has the dubious honour of being my travel companion.
“How will I even carry it seeing as it wont fit in my tiny backpack” You ask beginning to regret your light travelling policy which has just flown the coup.
Fortunately an old box is found and the chicken is placed in there, holes are poked along the sides so it can breathe, and the box is secured with tree bark thread and you handed a few grains of wheat and seed to feed the chicken, so it shan’t starve.
“Quickly the bus is almost here” you are warned, as you are marched brisklyto the bus stop. You can hear the engine growling from just around the bend and barely manage to make it to the roadside bus stop just as the bus coasts by comes to stop, in a plume of diesel smoke and dust from the road shoulder gravel.
Eight people escorted you to the bus and only one person gets in, you. The bus conductor eyes you somewhat disappointedly, probably he was expecting way more passengers. A few steps into the bus aisle the conductor yells at you that you are forgetting something and hands you the box with squawking chicken, you had hoped you could somehow leave it behind, now you are the guy with chicken on the bus, that’s why they call them chicken buses because sometimes fellow travelers are chickens.
Fortunately the bus is on the empty side and you find a seat to yourself somewhere near the back, you are the person you would not want to sit next to, the one with squawking chicken in the box. Someone at the front cranes their neck to face your way and tell you tell your chicken to shut up.
“Would if I could, but I don’t speak chicken” you reply calmly but deep down you wish you could strangle the chicken and put it out of its misery. It quietens down somewhat after you toss a few seeds of grain for it to snack on and the rest of the journey is mostly such a non-event, you even manage to fall asleep.
When you finally get home, the box is unusually quiet, maybe the chicken is dead. As soon as you open the box, out pops the chicken and the chasing games begin. Do chickens get mad chicken disease you wonder cause this one seems to act rather unchickenly chasing you instead of the way around, could it bite you and begin the zombie chicken apocalypse?
You almost want to give it a name, but naming it makes it your responsibility, you have to care for it feed it, and clean it; naming it, makes it a pet, and you can’t eat a pet; and this one for all its drama will be joining me for supper as the main course of these fine days………….