A neighbour brought a cockerel from the village, and he used a thin sisal rope to tie its leg to a heavy stone while he fed it, as he thought about its fate.
That was fine. Then, every day, at exactly 3am, when the night is still, and the wind is calm, and sleep is most sweet, the cock would rouse from slumber and think: “Hmm... this sure looks like the best time to test my vocal abilities.”
It would take a deep breath, puffing out its chest, and then proceed to let out a loud, long cry that would, unexpectedly, pierce through the silent night, causing sleep disturbance and discomfort across all the bedrooms on the entire plot.
It would crow several times, giving the performance of its life, and then, after causing enough aural damage to us, the tenants, it would go quiet, leaving us silently shaking with rage and sleeplessness underneath our bedding, and clucking our tongues in irritation, and angrily murmuring mean things about its owner. That was not fine.
Because at 3am, the only thing we like to hear is nothing.
I, being the kind, wonderful, peace-loving person that I am, thought about the best, most mature way to solve this poultry-human conflict. After deep reflection, extensive research and prayers, it was clear that the perfect solution was to turn this problem into stew.
I had to undertake this operation like a professional thug.
My plan was to abduct the rooster and slaughter it with the swiftness of a butcher, then enjoy it as ka-dry-fry for supper with some ugali or as ka-wet-fry with steamed rice.
I was saving us all from the 3am nuisance, plus I had not tasted chicken for quite a long time so this was a win-win resolution. It was my sincere hope that the owner of the cockerel would think that it had freed itself from the sisal rope, wandered and flew about, then got lost.
According to the PowerPoint presentation I had given myself, which left me terribly impressed, it was easier to kidnap the disrespectful cockerel when the night was young and people were busy settling indoors after a long day, perhaps watching news or their favourite shows, or eating supper or having a shower.
The indoor noise, I convinced myself, would drown out any cackles from the cockerel as I stealthily untied it and carried it away to its destiny.
This part did not go as smoothly as I had imagined.
Someone entered through the gate just as I was bending down to untie my next meal. I immediately winced, feigning pain, holding my foot and pretending that something had stung me, and all I was doing there was trying to lean on the wall for support. The person passed me by in the semi-darkness without a word and disappeared behind their door.
I looked around to make sure that I was alone on the verandah. I bent down again and reached for the sisal rope that was standing between me and my supper. Then I heard a door open. I did not care to see which door opened, or whose, or where.
I had to act fast. So I suddenly let myself fall, faking a grimace. I fell just next to the rooster, startling it. It flapped its wings as it jumped away and squawked. I stood up slowly, dusting myself and looking at the stone that imprisoned my stew accusingly, pretending it had tripped me.
I did not look around to see the enemy of my progress that had opened the door and compelled me to inflict physical harm on myself just to protect that operation, because I would look suspicious. So I casually and slowly walked away, towards the gate, with the intention of walking back to the bird when the coast was clear and whisking it away to the sharp knife and sufuria of hot water waiting in my house.
After standing at the gate for a few minutes, mentally going through the plan and checking that no one was coming in or going out, I gently strode back, heading straight to that which had been causing sleeplessness and distress on many a night.
The bird clucked gently as I successfully untied the sisal rope and lifted it up by its wings. I held it against my belly, and started out for my house, which is the last door in the row of houses in the plot. I could taste victory already, and it was sweet.
But before I got to my door, I heard a voice ask: “Huyo ni nani?” (Who is that?)
I went stiff with panic. The rooster kicked. I heard some feet shuffle. I did not wait to find out if the feet were coming for me. Or if it was me the voices were talking about. I regained motion and sped into my house. With speed never before witnessed, I dashed for the knife and slashed the cock’s head while stepping on its wings and legs, before its loud cackles could implicate me.
I then covered its bleeding neck with my hand while holding it into a basin, before the blood could splatter all over and become evidence. I was listening keenly to any movements outside my house, beads of sweat on my forehead and in the small of my back. Every voice I heard froze me, and I would hold my breath and dart my face, waiting for someone to bang on my door and identify me as the thief.
It was a trying and testing time as I dissected the chicken, but I kept my faith. Plus, I had earlier prepared myself with a convincing series of lies, and had even crammed a few frightening lines from the Constitution to scare off anyone should I be caught.
The chicken’s broth was delicious. And our nights were peaceful once again.
The owner, who later realised that the cockerel had been stolen, paced about the verandah, loudly and emotionally swearing that the thief would diarrhoea their own intestines.
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