The first time I killed a chicken, it got up with the head still attached and ran into the street. I ran in the opposite direction.
My sister ran after the dying chicken and my mum went after me.
They caught me first. I shook all over as though I had seen death. Indeed I had. It was 1864, I was 13, I think.
The knife was very sharp.
The chicken’s feet were under my left leg and its wings under my right foot.
I pulled its head back exposing its pale fleshy neck. The chicken swallowed hard, I felt its throat throb against my sweaty grip.
Its eyes seemed to turn dolefully towards mine. I turned away.
Don’t beg me, I thought.
It swallowed again. This time, even harder. The sensation crawled through the nerve endings in my palm and slithered up my shoulders, crossing into the narrow tracks of my spine. The fine hairs behind my neck pricked and I shivered.
I glanced at the chicken, the knife hovered over its neck, its eyes stared in that watery way pleading eyes do.
I tried to look away.
But those eyes wouldn’t let me. They pulled mine into their mellow melancholy.
Then the chicken moved under my feet, ever so lightly. I stepped harder with both my legs and tore my eyes from its now accusatory stare.
I brought the knife down hard.
Few things on Gods earth taste better than well garnished fried chicken.
If you wanted to multiply the pleasure into firmaments of heavenly proportions, then you should make it go with potato chips, Cole slaw, with a spread of ketchup and white or red sweet wine.
Pat was going to travel home the next day to see her family.
I wanted Pat to carry the unforgettable taste of our friendship with her.
There were no candles, no polite waiters hovering at our elbows to take every request, nor was there piano rendering of sonatas.
It was just us two.
We sat on the floor together in my room, devouring the chicken and chips, chasing it down with a half bottle of red sweet wine I took from Tola’s place yesterday.
Pat looked like an exotic Eritrean belle in her dreads, sparse make-up, dark eyes and a smile that said, “God, I have a great guy!”
Tubaba was on the FM inviting everyone to come and join him in his own crase.
I switched the station.
“You don’t like the song?” asked Pat.
“It’s inappropriate,” I said.
“Yeah, considering.” I agreed.
Styleplus came on, singing ‘Aso ibora.’
They’ve finally joined us in the 21 century, I mused. The song was nice, they were welcome very much.
Pat observed to me about my appetite, how it was unusual that I could eat so well on a night ‘such as such.’
“Such as such?”
“Yeah, I am leaving tomorrow. Aren’t you going to miss me?” she said.
I said won’t, not even a bit. “I have chicken and chips to keep me company…” I said.
Of course Pat knows I will miss her terribly.
The cycle would follow this pattern beginning tomorrow: I will mope around, write, compose poetry for Pat, chat with her, mope some more, sleep, eat chicken, go to work and start all over again.
Meanwhile, we will enjoy the time we have, every second of it. And every third.
We went out for a walk afterwards.
I cleared out the leftovers and proceeded to go to bed.
I couldn’t fall asleep.
I tossed and turned wondering if I had begun to miss my friend already.
No, I didn’t think so.
Yet I didn’t want a night of sheep counting, I thought. Or chicken counting, haha.
That chicken though. Looking at me as though it wanted me to know it had an opinion of me.
How can a chicken have an opinion? What was its opinion, of me, of us, humans?
I sailed on this reverie for a while, then I fell down like a waterfall into a boiling, foamy bottomless dream.