One chicken in the pot is worth two in stories

There is this chicken that is always on my mind.

The chicken and I met in March when it rudely awakened me at 4.30am.

There are a lot of birds in my yard which are a pleasure to listen to. They never wake me up at an ungodly hour, though they are tenants of long standing.

They respect my sleep and I respect their perch on my roof.

But Ms Chicken, an aggressive squatter, imposed her will on her surroundings immediately on her coming into the yard.

She was pure white in colour with a red crest and impressive feathers.

She chased the birds when they tried to get tidbits for breakfast. She cackled loudly and did not care that I could be fined for her unpleasant voice.

When I tried to get her out of my place, she merely moved to another spot.

When I returned in the evening, Ms Chicken was still wreaking havoc.

The next day in a taxi on the way to work, I was sleepy, short-tempered and feeling quite vindictive.

I told Auntie Emma about this uninvited intruder who did her best to wake me up earlier and earlier every day.

I told her that I was so fed up that I was thinking uncharitably of catching Ms Chicken and introducing her to a pot of boiling water.

Auntie Emma, who knows these things, was horrified. She told me never, never, ever to touch the tiresome bird or to think of eating it.

She said such birds were usually let loose after a bad luck ritual. She said that the bad luck would reside in my stomach and be with me always if I so much as touched the ugly one.

There was a chorus of agreement in the taxi and the stories flew thick and fast about cousins, aunts and uncles who ate chickens that were wandering about the neighbourhood and the gory ends these relatives came to.

Well, that saved Ms Chicken from my knife. She moved out of my yard a week later.

I would occasionally see her taking a stroll in the streets, but nobody touched her.

I suppose my neighbours knew more about African rituals than I do. I do not know what happened to her or if she met someone who did not care a fig for superstition.

Then the other day I saw a pitch black chicken doing the rounds on my street. This one was a cock.

It was the exact opposite of Ms Chicken. It was quiet, fearful and looked timid.

When I told the members in the taxi about this new foreigner, they were stumped. They have never heard of a ritual involving a black chicken.

They advanced a lot of theories but none appealed to us.

Auntie Emma is on leave and cannot give us the definitive wisdom on this new twist.

Now I find that I keep thinking of chicken boiled with green chillies, white pepper, carrots and potatoes until they turn to mush.