I need not ask whether you love chicken because I know you do. Possibly, you are tearing one apart as I write this. If you are a sufferer of Jah like Wizard you could be salivating over a somersaulting one behind a window pane. And no, I am not just addressing Waingo to whom chickens are enemies of the state. I am addressing everyone with a mouth to chew, an esophagus to swallow and a stomach to house the juicy thing.
The big question is: have you ever faced the possibility that the chicken was stolen property and, consequently, you belong in Kamiti Maximum Prison for eating stolen goods? Of course you will duck behind the fact that when they lose their heads, feet and feathers they all look, smell and taste the same. But that doesn’t make illegal legal.
Wisdom visited me early in life with the message that poultry farming was the quickest route to joining the ranks of Bill Gates. However, as I came to learn, becoming a tycoon through poultry farming has more and deeper potholes than any known road, the deepest one being chicken thieves. By now you have already figured why I am whining: my chicken might have ended up in your stomach, illegally.
On this day I was mourning the loss of yet another cock when Mutwiri, our farmhand, told me that he had a plan. Mutwiri was full of plans. He called the plan ORCT – Operation Roast Chicken Thieves.
The first phase of ORCT was to spread rumours that our mongrel Simba had died of a short illness bravely borne and that I was the proud owner of a dozen more chicken. In the second phase I would join my chicken in their bedroom for the night. I would be armed with a rope tied around my waist. The moment a hand or a head appeared in the coop I would tie it, raise the alarm and voila, we would have someone to roast. Oh yeah; when I say Mutwiri was full of plans I mean just that. Someone was about to know why the hen never visits the urinal. I meant to send a clear message that I wouldn’t have suffered a heart attack for eating chicken but I didn’t because I wanted to become a tycoon and I wanted it badly.
I must have dozed off considering my interview by the TV reporter.
‘You have thousands of chicken,’ the reporter said. ‘What is the secret of your success?’
‘Breed more, eat less, roast all chicken thieves.’
I woke up as my head connected with timber to find myself in motion. If you are in motion and all is quiet you can’t be on a vehicle, can you? The body had woken up leaving the brain asleep and that is why I told myself I was dreaming. My heart changed rhythm from lento to allegro as I remembered I was lounging with the chicken.
‘And the way he was bragging about his chicken!’ a deep voice said.
‘He is a proud fool alright,’ said a second voice.
The two men chuckled. Desperate as I was to fix the voices I just couldn’t. How could I when couldn’t breathe?
‘He claims his grandmother’s curse would ‘eat’ him if he ate chicken,’ Deep voice said.
‘He wants to be a millionaire badly.’
‘How many chickens do you think are there?’
‘Hundreds, considering the weight. It is our big night.’
‘The gods of thieves never forget his servants,’ Deep voice said.
The warrior blood in me started boiling to the extent I considered kicking the door and facing the thieves. Don’t say it- I know it was the surest way to the morgue but wait, the voice calling me a fool was that of my cousin Mbogo! What had become of Mutwiri and Simba?
I cursed and the two thieves stopped.
‘Did you hear that?’ asked Deep Voice.
Mbogo laughed nervously and said, ‘Could be a chicken dreaming.’
‘Sometimes I think you have chicken droppings for a brain.’
‘How dare you? I planned this thing…’
‘Shut up, will you? This is far enough.’
‘Cock-a-doodle-doo to that,’ Mbogo said.
My heart threatened to go on leave as the latch moved and the door flew open. A hand moved inside and began to explore.
Then Simba barked.
I fastened the noose on the hand and pulled. The last thing I heard was chicken noise before I was knocked unconscious.
‘Tell me you’ve lynched him already!’ I demanded when I came to.
‘The rope broke,’ Mutwiri said.
‘A new rope did what? I recognized one of the bastards.’
To my dismay, Mbogo was dead asleep in his house. The following day I made sure that I met as many neighbours as possible. I would shake their hands vigorously hoping to see bruises or a broken hand.
The thieves had slipped through our fingers.