Nine Lives

It was time for the holidays, festivities all around. Christmas was in the air. The streets were lined with decorations, Christmas trees of different sizes, colourful lights adorn shop corners and my house wasn’t an exception to all of this merriment as my mum already brought out the box we named “Christmas decorations” which consisted of no more than a worn out Christmas light which has seen better days and a table top Christmas tree already bent out of shape.

Off to the market, my uncle and I, to buy the chicken. This is always a big deal for us as this is the only time in the year we get to eat chicken.

“C’mon, hold the chicken, my friend!” This was my uncle, uncle Ben; my no-nonsense, never wrong, always right, “knock some sense into your head” uncle. He’s the only father figure I have since my dad passed away seven years ago. The chicken kept squirming, aware that it had come to the end of the road and was about to meet the same fate its other buddies met when they were never seen or heard from again. I was trying so hard and failing terribly to hold the chicken. Once again, I was facing my worst fears: holding the chicken and watching when it’s being killed, are usually the scariest moments for me but Uncle Ben always insists I watch! For the life of me, I have no idea why. From my apparent lack of control over the squirming bird and in true uncle Ben style, I got a very wonderful knock on my head and he grabbed the chicken from my hand.

“You are just so lazy, and weak!” He hissed and paid the chicken seller. We made our way home and proceeded to the second most dreaded chicken experience, the killing. And of course, I was made to stand and watch. As usual, uncle Ben sharpened the knife and picked the bird which, by now, was frantically trying to escape. I felt a bit sorry for the bird. Without batting an eyelid, he took the knife to the throat and started cutting. After much struggle, the chicken went limp but the most incredible thing happened. My uncle  cut off the rope holding the legs; big mistake! Almost immediately, the chicken sprang up with its head dangling to one side, it started running around the compound.

“Jesu!! ” I shouted from where I was standing and I immediately ran to hide behind the door-  where I could watch and still be safe. I was shaking so badly and the bowl I was holding dropped from my hand. It was a scary sight, seeing the chicken, with its head dangling from its body, running around. But it was interesting seeing uncle Ben running after the chicken, missing his steps and falling down in a bid to catch it. They kept running in circles until uncle Ben, I don’t know if he finally came to his senses or he got an imaginary knock on his head, stopped and decided to come at the bird from the other side and lo and behold, he caught the chicken as it was running head, sorry,  neck on towards him. He picked the knife and cut off the head of the chicken which was still struggling for dear life up until the head came off.

He raised his head, still breathing heavily, shouted, “My friend, go and bring the hot water! Nonsense! You just stand dia dey look! Mxcheeeeew. Ode!”

I quickly turned so he wouldn’t see that I smiled all the way to the kitchen. Uncle Ben made a fool of himself today and it was fun to watch.



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