Sunday 7 September 2008

Childhood: The fruits of a chicken napping dog

Fruits of many trees

When we finally moved to Jos and settled in the suburb of Rayfield, we had a full house with Unculu (my paternal uncle) and other relations of my father that included his niece and kid sister.

Our colonial bungalow was set in grounds that included an orchard of mango trees, a lemon tree, a fig tree, a cashew tree, a few orange trees and lots of grazing ground for cattle.

There was a separate garage for the car and a block of rooms set aside about a minute’s walk from the main building which was the boy’s quarters – a colonial definition of apartments for servants.

Blood of thieves

Besides the help we had from our relations we had a maid servant who despite her work was offered the opportunity of schooling and a gardener who doubled as a watchman of sorts.

This however did not stop the watchman of being robbed once, where some of his family possessions were stolen and on one occasion a thief tried to gain entry to our house, broke and window pane and cut himself badly.

All the blood and the trail of blood from the scene of the crime was quite unsettling for me as a child, in fact, it was just as scary as when we found a bat squeaking in the kitchen sometime before.

Et tu Bruté?

However, one of the memories that stuck with me was of our very first dog, Brutus, a very nice cheerful dog that seemed to have a taste for chickens in the neighbourhood. One day when I was away at school, the people came round, chased the dog into the bushes which were downhill from the house some 500 metres away and ran a spear through it, as I was told.

Rumour has it; it ended up in some soup pots, the killers probably doing well to retrieve their chickens by eating the dog that ate their chickens.

It was something of a traumatic experience and it took a while before we got another dog that I named Scot after the dog Scot in the Janet and John books we read at school.

Beheading the chicken

Thankfully, Scot did not have a taste for chickens at all, considering we had quite a few chickens then on the grounds.

Every once in a while we chased a chicken to exhaustion for a meal, none of that frozen chicken stuff and I had been taught how to clamp the wings under one foot and have the feet under another foot, grab at the head, holding it up to reveal the neck and cut without necessarily decapitating the bird.

Once, I did cut the head completely off and did not let all the blood out or allow for the last breath, lifted my feet and got half chased by a headless chicken before it expired – thankfully, it did, because there was no way I would have tried to catch it after what had happened to it.

Imagine if the chicken ended up like Mike the headless chicken [Source: Mike the Headless Chicken - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia] which survived for 23 months, sometimes; the weirdest people do the craziest things and find a place in the Guinness Book of World Records.

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