A series of anecdotes with or without any connection to the running of a restaurant.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

The Red Riding Rooster...

I was 8 when Messaoud died. I cried.

My mother said: “Don’t worry, son. We’ll just have to get another one!”
Messaoud was a rooster!
He had been part of the family ever since I could remember.

He strutted his stuff round the farm like a security guard in all his regalia.
Just before dawn, he walked up to the wooden fence and leapt onto its highest post just by the side of the missing gate.
As the sun began to cast its first rays, his magnificent plumage sparkled in the rising sunlight. He tuned his throat, filled his chest with morning wind and began his chant.
It burst out as a reveille bugle, melodious and smooth yet powerful and commanding.
He then bowed his crested head to an invisible audience, acknowledged the encore and burst into song one more time.
Cockadoodledoo! Cockadoodledoo!
His wake-up duty over, he did the rounds of the farm.

He marched slowly past the feeding chicks and hens like a sergeant inspecting his soldiers, mumbling orders and kicking stones.
He never mingled with the rest of the flock, preferring to remain still on a raised monticule of earth and straw to keep a discreet eye on the tiny balls of yellow feathers that were his pride and joy.

He stretched his neck at the slightest unfamiliar sound. He investigated the immediate surroundings without leaving his watch-tower.
Papa’s arrival in his shiny black car, our tired feet returning from school, the water bucket clinking as my mother lowered it into the well... These familiar sounds never managed to get him to stray from his sentry duty.
The only thing that did was the arrival of an old lady we all called Aunty Mabrouka.

She stood at the entrance to the farm and shouted for my mother to help her gain safe passage to the farmhouse.
My mother, in her apron, hands covered in dough always shouted:
“Just come along, Aunty. You'll be ok!” as she returned to kneading the daily bread.

The old, frail woman began making her way along the dusty path, her back arched by the years, covered in her usual red woollen shawl.

Messaoud’s eagle eyes followed the moving red target from the main road, past the well and the fig trees, the radish patch and the feeding hens. Aunty Mabrouka edged her way in a wide semi-circle in an attempt to avoid him but as she came round, a few yards from the door, Messaoud pounced.

The terrified woman screamed for my mother to help her. Messaoud swiftly climbed on her hunched back and began pecking the back of her neck as she ran towards the wooden door, screaming and swaying from side to side, trying to unseat him.

My mother came out brandishing her rolling pin. Messaoud calculated his escape just as Aunty Mabrouka dived through the doorway. He jumped off and turned round. He fluffed up his feathers and slowly strutted past his adoring flock back to his pedestal.

This hilarious episode was replayed many times till he died of old age.

Papa buried him behind the farmhouse. I stood by his side as he lowered the remains of our dear rooster into a makeshift grave. After he covered it with soil I placed a red rag attached to a twig to mark the spot.

Messaoud’s replacement had none of his pageantry or ferocity and Aunty Mabrouka was very relieved as her visits became more regular.


Blogger Hayden said...

What a beautiful bird! and what a great story - what a character your rooster was!

7/12/05 1:47 PM  
Blogger Janet said...

Fun story!We live on a farm.When I first married, we had an evil turkey.It was quite frightening to have a HUGE feathered menace waiting every time you stepped into the yard.

7/12/05 2:43 PM  
Blogger cream said...

Hayden, if I can remember rightly, our rooster was huge compared to the hens! It might have also been the fact that I was only 8.

Janet, turkeys are definitely evil sometimes! We'll just have to get our own back at Christmas!

7/12/05 2:54 PM  
Blogger Ale said...

he didnt like the Auntie eh? hehe

- sorry, the FIRST thing that comes to my mind when i see chikens is bird flu! -- i gotta stop watching those documentaries...

7/12/05 3:45 PM  
Blogger ValGalArt said...

cream, this is a wonderful and sweet story! I love all the words you use. Monticule is not a word you hear very often! Excellent! I can picture everything so clearly by your beautiful choice of words.

7/12/05 5:42 PM  
Blogger cream said...

Ale, I think he flew up to Chicken heaven!

Val, it's funny but the word monticule came from my French background. I a glad it is the same as in English.
When I write, I try to describe things as I see them in my mind's eye.
It is up to the readers to use their own memory to paint the scene.
You are so complimentary, you make me feel great!

7/12/05 6:18 PM  
Blogger Guyana-Gyal said...

Oh I love this story, so charming, the way you tell it.

What a wicked rooster. It was the colour red he didn't like, eh. Or he wanted it?

Oh, oh, maybe he thought it was another rooster, anything red, another rooster, coming to poach on his patch.

I LOVE that bit of red you marked his grave with hahahaha...wicked.

7/12/05 10:11 PM  
Blogger cream said...

GG, it is so encouraging to have comments like yours. I have always liked to write (first in French and now, mainly in English) but, it is often very frustrating when one doesn't really know if the quality is any good. I really like constructive criticism especially when it comes from able writers.

The rooster was truly vicious. He once attacked my sister when she was wearing a red coat.
But, you don't get many of him in a dozen eggs any more!

7/12/05 10:49 PM  
Blogger juliana said...

I had a pet chicken when I was little! I only had it for a little while, until it grew big then my mom slaughtered it in the kitchen (we lived in an apartment back then). For some reason the killing of my pet didn't bother me and every time she cooked chicken after that I would ask if it was my chicken we were eating.

8/12/05 2:29 AM  
Blogger isis said...

Aww! That's a sweet story...;)

8/12/05 4:09 AM  
Blogger Viking054 said...

How can a bird have so much character? Touching story, and well told.

The first time I actually heard a rooster in the morning was about a year ago, in Brasil of all places... I just remember thinking, they really do that!

8/12/05 4:40 AM  
Blogger LDahl said...

Ah, this reminds me of my dear Sir Crows-A-Lot. How I loved him. How he loved to look at himself in the chrome bumper of the car and preen. He died a warrior's death, defending the hens from a hawk.
I love chickens:)

I love your story!

8/12/05 6:43 AM  
Blogger cream said...

Juliana, a pet chicken, eh? I can imagine the noise you made at KFC!

Isis, sweet story if you weren't wearing red!

Viking,our rooster reminds me of Forghorn Leghorn.
I'm glad you like it!

Idhal, I'll have to research this Sir Crows-a-lot! Thanks for the comment.

8/12/05 9:02 AM  
Blogger Alina Chau said...

Oooooh .... so sweet! Nice story and coool pict.

8/12/05 4:21 PM  
Blogger cream said...

Thank you Alina! I love your pictures very much!

8/12/05 4:30 PM  
Blogger Chill Daddy said...

Okay, here's my rooster story. I'm picking up kids after work at their grandfather's house and suddenly I see my ten-year-olds panicked, crying face in the side window. He fumbles with the door then runs screaming out into the field. I jump out to save him, without a clue as to what was happening to him, and I see the small, usually harmless rooster chasing him at top speed. I chased him down and headed him off of course, but none of us could figure out what made him go berserk.

Until we realized Chantze was wearing a bright orange hooded sweatshirt. He's scared to wear it to his Grandpa's now.

8/12/05 4:49 PM  
Blogger cream said...

CD, It is strange that they attack anybody wearing bright red!

I think I'm gonna this to our mayor:
Starting our own Corridas using Roosters instead of Bulls. Olé!

8/12/05 5:16 PM  
Blogger carla said...

Such a wonderful story you tell! Messaoud sounds like the stuff of legend, a heroic fowl with dignity and prowess. He deserves a crest emblazoned with his image, don't you think? You really are a master of description...thank you for this delightful treat:>

8/12/05 11:16 PM  
Blogger cream said...

Carla, thank you for visiting and thank you for the compliments!

Messaoud has definitely earned this post and I am glad that all my blogging friends know about him now! This is the Crest he has always deserved. I am sure that he will wear it with pride in chicken heaven! Your words, he will surely cherish!

8/12/05 11:46 PM  
Blogger Julie Oakley said...

Great story - I wanted to comment on the use of the word monticule - but see I've been pipped at the post.

9/12/05 6:57 PM  
Blogger cream said...

Ta, Julie! Monticule seems to have tickled people's fancy!
It just came out!
From now on, I shall be asking for a monticule of mash, rice or pasta on my plate.
I am sure Karen will understand and she won't place it on my head!

10/12/05 2:09 AM  

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