In a small corner of the town lived a kind man who had a small garden and a small farm in his yard that he loved dearly. He loved all the little animals; the chickens, the rabbits, the ducks, the little goats as well as the fruits, flowers and vegetables in his garden. He catered to all the little animals, fed them well and treated them very kindly always smiling and never was never cross with any of them, even when the goats ate far too much of his corns and vegetables.
He was particularly fond of the ducks and hens with their beautiful plumage of different shades of blue and green, their clucking and quacking always sounded like music to his ears. One very special morning one of the blue hens hatched its eggs and the little chicks that came out were the most beautiful things in the whole yard.
Especially the one little chick that was the liveliest of them all. It was covered all in light navy blue feathers with little green patches on either sides of it. The little chick would run round the whole yard and jump and play with all the animals there. Whenever the farmer came along it would run round the farmer’s legs which made the kind farmer very happy.
By the time the little chick was seven days old it had run the whole length of the yard, he knew all the animals and every little plant in the garden, including all the little stones and sand in the yard. The only thing it didn’t know was anything beyond the yard wall. Which made the little chick curious.
He would ask the goats, the rabbits and all the ducks: “What’s behind these walls?”
“I don’t know, little chick.” Came their reply.
He’d even ask the carrots in the farmer’s garden: “What’s behind these walls?” but they gave no reply.
When he asked the farmer himself he only got a handful of millet and corn which was delicious but that wasn’t the answer he was hoping for.
Finally, mother hen answered: “Little one, no one knows what’s behind these walls most of us were born here and we are happy, that is enough for us and it should be enough for you.” She said.
“But mother hen, it makes me very curious not knowing anything beyond these wall.” He protested.
“Curiosity is a double edged sword, my little chick. Either it cuts you or it cuts a new fabric of reality for you.” She replied.
“But mother hen…?”
“Do, stop asking anymore questions little one. Now off to bed you go.” She ordered.
The little chick kept quiet and stopped asking questions.
After many seasons the little chick had become a full grown cock. He now had a big beautiful bright red comb, wattle and face. And his little blue and green feathers had become longer and larger to become a greenish black coloured chicken breast, wing bar and hock. With long and bright orange coloured hackles and cape which looked like a lion’s mane along with thick violet-green tail feathers which had sickles so long you would have confused this chicken for a peacock. His body stood on legs with long shanks with thick spurs and toes and claws which made him very tall. And best of all, he had the best voice in the entire yard. Whenever morning came, he would crow with the most melodious cock-a-doodle-doo you have ever heard to wake up the entire yard and all the other animals loved and admired him. Most of all the farmer who had set up a special hen house just for his handsome cock.
The others affectionately called him: Red, on account of his comb and most of his face which was completely red except for his eyes and the white patches beneath them.
Red walked tall and proud but he wasn’t arrogant and he always made sure to help all other animals big and small whenever he could. He would dig out seeds and other treats for others to eat, he would jump up to the roof to scatter dried fishes that the farmer’s wife was drying in the sun and he would reach the high corn cobs and pick them for the other animals to eat. They were indeed happy that he was amongst them.
But season after season he still yearned to know the mystery that laid outside the yard. The older he got the more curious he got and now more than ever he yearned to know, to see, hear, and experience life beyond the wall. Sometimes, he’d wish that he was a pigeon or a dove and then he would fly into the air and see the world below him.
Fortunately, one day while exploring the garden he found that the farmer had stacked a pile of corn trees against the wall which had formed a ladder that a small animal could use to leap over the fence.
He was surprised!
“I haven’t seen that before” he thought. “It must have been new. I must use this before it’s too late.”
And gingerly he climbed onto the husked corn trees. Higher and higher, he went until he was finally close to the top of the fence. And with one finally jump and flap of the wings he was finally over the fence.
He was free!
Free to explore!
Red ran wildly for joy. Up and down, round and round he went. He had imagined life outside the garden was a paradise. With many beautiful trees, grasses and animals that lived freely out in the open and…WHAT A MINUTE, WHERE ARE THE TREES AND ANIMALS?
The curious cock looked around him and saw with utmost shock and bewilderment. There WEREN’T ANY TREES OR ANIMALS! From the hot ground below him to the many cluttered rows of buildings before him there were no trees. Not a single one. There were many poles tall as tress but they seemed made of hard sand and they carried curious branches of vines that lead to another pole and another and another with no leaves to be seen anywhere.
Not even grasses, as common as they were in the garden could be seen here. The cock liked grasses, they were soft and always cooled down his feet and they always seemed to collect water droplets that he could drink or even hide a juicy potato bug or earthworm that he could snack on.
This place beyond the wall only had hot white and black coloured grounds that burned his feet and were hard to walk on. It was very hard that he could not even dig for seeds or earthworms to snack on.
There were many houses though, like the farmer’s, all lined around him in many different sizes and shapes and colours of blue, yellow and browns.
Some were beautiful others were not. And there were so many that they covered up the more beautiful sky that he thought. After a few minutes in his new environment the cock was feeling down. The outside lacked so much natural beauty that he thought:
“This place is very ugly.”
And he was beginning to get hungry. He couldn’t dig for food in the hard ground so he decided to search for one. He followed the path he was on to an even wider road and alas he saw people.
He was so happy to see humans. Back at the farm he always imagined that there were many more people like the farmer, who were kind and generous and shared their grains of rice, millets and seeds with the animals around them. So joyfully the rooster ran towards them and gave a great crow of cock-a-doodle-doo to get their attention but…nothing happened. They just kept walking.
“That’s odd.” He thought.
“Whenever I crowed for the farmer he always threw down seeds or grains for me. Maybe, my voice isn’t loud enough for these humans, I’ll just crow a bit louder.”
And so he crowed, louder and louder, again and again but still no grains or seeds were thrown.
This angered the cock, he crowed angrily this time and then wailed and cried and jumped up and down to crow in their faces. When finally, the man turned to look at Red for the first time. But instead of giving out corn the man aimed a kick at the crazy chicken flapping and crowing into his face.
“Get out of here, you mad hen”. Said the man as he gave red a kick.
And the chicken went; “Cock-a-doodle-QUACK-WACKAKA-ACK! As he quickly dodged the man’s foot which nearly hit him.
“No, honey. Don’t touch it. Maybe it’s got that mad avian flu disease that we heard on the news”. His woman advised and they both walked briskly away from the obviously mad chicken.
That put a stop to Red’s crowing.
“These humans are CRAZY!” he thought. “The farmer never kicked an animal at the farm. Not even when he caught the naughty goats chewing on his corn stalks, he would simply shoo them away”.
Disappointed and hungry, he took to the road hoping to come across one kind human as he was definitely hungry from all the crowing he’d been doing. At the road junction he turned right and saw again HUMANS, lots and lots of them. In different sizes; tall, short, fat, thin, walking, running, some carrying loads on their heads and others in curious big tins like buckets that rolled on left and right and never stopped.
Red stopped. He’d never seen more than two people before in his life and now he saw dozens flash by every second.
Remembering that he was hungry, he crowed again but this time nobody answered or even looked his way. They just kept walking on like the wind was blowing them on their way. So he crowed some more and more, still nothing. Then in frustration he walked to the middle of the road and said:
“Can anyone hear me? COCK-A-DOODLE-D AAAAAAAAAAH”
But nobody heard Red or they pretended not to as one man even nearly stepped on him which forced him to dodge again and this time he flew on to the open roads where the rolling buckets were passing.
Total pandemonium as Red flew up to the windscreen of a car and up on to another car and another and yet another as he desperately tried to dodge being roadkill. And finally up onto a bike rider who shrieked:
“YEEEE!” said he.
As he struggled to get control of his bike while it wobbled and came to a crashing stop forcing all other vehicles to grind to an abrupt halt while other inexperienced drivers bump into the cars ahead of them creating a chaos ending in a messy gridlock.
“What’s wrong with you. Can’t you drive?” one driver asked.
“Are you blind, didn’t you see the okada rider stumble and fall in front of me?” replied another.
“Hey you, why did you stop like that, are you drunk?”
“It wasn’t me; it was a crazy chicken who flew into my face!”
“Hello, who’s going to pay for the damage to my car?”
“Ask the chicken, he caused it!”
“But why did a chicken cross the road, are you sane at all?”
And so went the brouhaha, in the open road now at a standstill all of which Red now safely perched above a shop roof catching his breath was observing and thought;
“These humans are crazy! “They nearly murdered me! Back in the garden, the kind farmer would never walk while the smaller animals were in front of him. He would carefully step aside or wait for us to move aside before taking a step. But not here, here humans would kick, trample and run over any animal that was close to them.”
And so the rooster felt so bitterly sad about leaving the safe enclave that he had so very enjoyed before venturing into the company of careless humans that he wept like a day old chick missing mother hen.
Later on, now utterly fed up and looking for his home the rooster surveyed the environment from his rooftop vista point. He searched desperately but he was ultimately depressed when he couldn’t see anything that looked vaguely familiar to it. And now positively starved, he then looked for any place where he could find food. He found a place, a clearing that seemed to have little or no human traffic and now wisely terrified of the roads he jumped from rooftop to rooftop until he was close to it and jumped down to search for food.
He couldn’t believe his eyes. The clearing was nothing but a smelly compost and rubbish site. What’s more all manner of animals were eating from it and were even fighting over it.
“Unbelievable”. He thought. “Even more unbelievable was that his stomach was growling for the trash food. So, with much reluctant resignation he ventured forth albeit hesitantly to look for food in the ginormous rubbish heap.
When he got closer he was even more surprised to see all manner of animals: birds, chickens, pigs, goats gathered around the rubbish site scavenging for food and feeding off of whatever rotten scraps they found there. The animals were obviously some kind of castaways or runaways who had nobody else to feed them judging by the state of their bodies and once again Red felt truly grateful to have had someone care for him.
Now at the rubbish site he was about to begin eating when he noticed that most of the somewhat fresh literal junk food consisting of; newly thrown rotten rice, bread and pieces of God knows what were at the very top of the rubbish bin unreachable to most of the animals and a lot of them were unsuccessfully trying to reach it. So Red, wanting to help his fellow animals moved back for a running start, ran towards the bin and jumped flapped him wings ferociously and landed right at the top of the bin.
“Ugh the smell is worse here, yuck!” he belched.
Then he used his strong chicken legs to push down the rotten food. All the animals at the bottom of the bin jumped for joy and began eating earnestly. After most of the animals had been satiated Red jumped back down and settled on a piece of rotten bread. He bent his beak and was about to start eating when he heard.
“Hey, you either eat fast here or you don’t eat at all?” came the most melodious voice he’d ever heard from above him.
Upon raising up his head, what he saw first was her silhouette because her back was against the sun. He almost didn’t believe his eyes as he watched the image before him. When his eyes adjusted he saw he clearly, it was a hen. A young hen, about four (4) months old, in the prime of her youth and she was GLORIOUS!
She had long slender shanks which diverged into three slim toes and toenails. Her hock was perfect to her form and they grew into thighs and then into (he tried to look away but couldn’t help himself) full blooming chicken breasts which curved gracefully into a neck hidden by hackles that any cock would want to rest upon. Her head was crowned with a small but pretty rose pink comb which looked a little like a princess tiara, making her look like a princess. Her face and dainty wattles were a pretty pink also except for her beak which were of light corn yellow colour.
At first thought, her feathers looked black but as he shifted his gaze just a tad to the left. The colours of her feathers shimmered slightly to violet blue. From the spikes of comb to the tips of her toes she was definitely the most captivating chicken he’d ever seen.
First thing that came to his mind was: “What’s a nice chick like you, doing in a dump like this”?