This afternoon, a handful of serious looking men were sitting on the porch visiting with Aamaa, who is still not moving much after her operation a few weeks ago. I was puttering around when Aamaa called me to put the chicken inside for the night. Now, I’ve never put a chicken away before, but I was so pleased to be asked that, without any questions, I strode out to the porch and walked up to the chicken. It promptly went skittering off.
Ah, I thought, I see. This is going to be like climbing on to the upper roof. Seems straightforward until you try to do it, at which point it’s too late; you’re already committed. And standing on a middle roof. With everyone looking at you.
As I pondered how one goes about putting away a skittering chicken, my doubt must have been obvious on my face because Aamaa immediately told me to forget about it and let Bishnu put the chicken away. That’s the routine: I try to do something, we all realize just how much I don’t know how to do it, everyone tells me to stop, I insist, there is a contest of wills, and then something happens. But one thing is certain: I’m not about to lay down and be defeated by an uppity chicken.
So the array of serious looking men, and Aamaa lying on a mat, watched as I chased the chicken around the yard, into the radish patch, through a thick of flowers, back into the yard and through the door of the house, where I thought I finally had it cornered, and then back outside, all the while trying to act casual. I frittered after the disobedient little excuse for a bird, and eventually, after another trip through the flowers, managed to chase it back inside, where I finally got my hands on it with a decisive dive and firm grasp. Like the surprisingly solid upper roof, it turns out that a chicken does not squirm as much as one would expect if one chooses to grab it forthrightly.
I emerged triumphantly onto the porch holding the gleeful chicken, which seemed very satisfied with the trouble it had caused, having certainly never enjoyed such an entertaining bedtime. I went into the goat room to put it in its little chicken box, which I’d never really seen, because the goat room is unlit and I never have a reason to be in there. I felt around for the chicken box, which turned out to have a top and a bottom compartment. Not wanting to ask any questions, I promptly stuffed the chicken into the top compartment. But it didn’t seem to want to fit and I had to push on its chicken butt while calling, “Aamaa, the top or the bottom?” I got the chicken and its butt into the top compartment.
“The bottom,” Aamaa called from the porch.
I pulled the chicken out–it must have been quite perplexed by this point after years of daily extraction and replacement from its box in an efficient and reasonable manner–and then stuffed it into the bottom compartment. I learned later that there’s a little piece of wood I’m supposed to put across the box for a door, but I didn’t now it at the time, so I was quite pleased with myself when I came stumbling out of the dark goat room back onto the porch.
There the gathered group of serious men sat there impassively, or stunned, if you will, no comments to be made. As for Aamaa, she had a look I’ve become familiar with. It says, “Well, that’s a hell of a way to put away a chicken. But it appears to have worked.”