Sunday, May 27, 2012

a clan no more

    making a phone call home is always pleasurable. there is always news. and, in the times now it is almost instinctive to pick up the phone and call for anything, everything and, sometimes just to hear  'your voice.'

    a couple of days before i left home, there was a huge thunderstorm in the evening. trees uprooted blocked roads, branches fell on electric lines, leaving us without power for more than 28 hours. the strong gusts of wind pushed a white hen from the branches of the coffee tree, which is where the cock-a-doodle clan roosts at night.


    she was disoriented and ran into the kitchen, when the back door was opened. but, we were as surprised to run into her at dinner time as she clucked loudly and ran helter-skelter. she found an opening and ran outside into the night, now pitch black with no street lights. not even the haughty rooster could help her. and, his favourite wife, grump-a-cluck was, secretly, very glad indeed.


    later in the night, as i was getting ready to sleep in the farthest corner of the house, i could hear rustling leaves. i hoped it was the lost mrs cluck. but, by mid-morning the next day, her headless carcass was found by our domestic help on the stone fence not far from their roost. by this time, the high and mighty one and his harem had already fed and gone to the neighbours, as is the routine.


    so, one afternoon i called home and i was greeted with sad, emptying news. whatever it was that had eaten the hen on the night of the thunderstorm had struck another time. again, the poor headless hen was buried near the largest jackfruit tree. 

    a couple of mornings later, mr rooster looked lost. clucking nervously he paced about the courtyard. a search in and around the premises revealed that the last two hens had gone missing - no carcass, no feathers! a mystery in our midst, theft on our minds.


    there was foreboding enough, no one was surprised the rooster had wandered of. really, he needed gals and was free of his domesticity. so, he strutted on the road conscious of the admiring glances of people passing by, who were wondering which house he belonged to. by afternoon, he had been caught and killed by the watch dog of the Convent three houses away.

    the Mother (of the Convent) was very sorry indeed, but, really, what could she have done. amma was so horrified, and exhausted, that she has let the rickety coop be. maybe, after a few months, she will feel like revisiting the sounds of the hens, the warmth of a freshly laid egg, the call of the rooster who would never let us hear the last of it if the feed was not scattered on time. for now, the void is palpable across two states, the silence deafening, the loss tangible.

    trh - void

pictures taken in happier times.





Shalini said...

Oh, that's so sad and so odd that they're all gone, one by one. I always thought, things like these were the hardest part of living in the countryside/farm like environment.

Our beloved sheepdog, Blackie was killed by a leopard in the forest above our orchard when we were in school. There were other smaller incidents too, but losing Blackie was hard for us kids.

asha said...

A sad, poignant story brilliantly told and shown!

It really sounds like an out-of-
this-world fairy tale, your sweet quaint land, the storm, current outages and the mysterious head-hunter ... reminds me of Jim Corbett's 'Churail' stories.
Hope a cock-a-doodle clan comes again to roost on those coffee branches and give us a happy epilogue and happier chats on the phone.

In case I haven't told you, or you don't know it yet, you're writing is brilliant and kept me reading nearly biting my nails too.

silpas said...

It's touching tale that often repeats. And you narrate this incident and its emotional impact not just on you and the family members who got used to the presence of the clucking clan but also the hapless mind of the Rooster Mister who suddenly found himself devoid of his begums in his harem. THe images add to the story. A palm civet attack is what that came to my mind. We have had regular scenes at home. When my MIL passed away, we almost gave whatever was left of the hens to some of the neighbours, but the caretaker kept two-three of them and ever since he has been taking care of the clan and their subsequent spread. Among the ladies who run about our courtyard, there is one that wobbles about. It seems she had to sacrifice her feet in a failed bid to save her chick from the civet that went tearing into the coop.

P.S:Also didnt miss the humour in grump-a-cluck's secret happiness;)

shilpa said...

Shalini - it is sad. losing a pet always is.

and, our neighbors did not particularly like them as they spoilt their garden and all. but, amma kept them only because S n A love picking up the eggs the hen lay. they also recognize the special clucking once they've done laying for the day.

i remember you telling me about your blackie when we got ours :)

shilpa said...

Asha - thank you. maybe after amma is better and unto it after her chemo and all, a new cock and his harem will regale us :D

head-hunter! now, why didn;t i think of that word?

shilpa said...

Silpa - i must enquire about the civet bit. looks quite possible it is the culprit. i am sorry about your m-i-l, i didn't know.

it was you kozhi shot in the after-rains-mosaic that reminded me of the shots sitting on my hard drive, S :)

kala said...

So sadddd anyways ur happier time pics are coolll looking forward for moree happier time picturess

shilpa said...

thank you, Kala :)

Suchi said...