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Chickens - A Short story

A short story


It has been written on that board that ‘country chickens and broiler chickens are available here – live and dressed.’ Next to it a couple of chickens and an egg had been drawn. One side of the board has prices of them marked in Kg’s and grams. Above all, it has been clearly written as ‘Sri Devi chicken stall’ in English and in Tamil, along with the sub title of ‘protein shop.’

There were many white-feathered chickens in those thin coops inside the shop. Some of them were standing while some were moving here and there, looking vaguely and yet few others were eating Ragi* that’s been kept in small aluminium bowls. A piece of wood stalk has been laid in front of the shop. On it, a knife has been put with bloodstains in it. Nearer were a big cauldron, small bowls, and a wastebasket with torn feathers, chickens crests and talons.

The shopkeeper was standing outside and smoking beedi*. The shop emitted a stale odour that belongs to only a chicken coop, which made passer-by to rub the nose.

Presently an auto came and stopped on the road in front of the shop. A woman around the age of thirty-five and a boy were inside the auto. The boy was down from the auto and as he came towards the shop, looking at the shopkeeper, signalled ‘two’ by the hand. Shopkeeper rubbed the beedi off on the wall, placed it at the back of his right ear as he went inside. The boy too went after him. The keeper opened up a coop and took out a chicken, holding its neck by the hand. The chicken in his hands fluttered its feathers and cried in a cracking voice. He held it in one hand conveniently and severed the head with the sharp knife.

Chickens cry was suddenly snapped off and the head fell down and fluttered for a while. The severed chicken was dropped into the cauldron. Those chickens inside the coops suddenly seemed to be panicked and they were looking here and there restless and bewildered. Some of them cackled tensely. The keeper reached for another one from the coop and took it out. That too fluttered the feathers and cackled. Chickens in the coop too fluttered and cackled with growing apprehension. Some of them ran here and there in their panic, while the man severed the other too and dropped it into the cauldron.

There was heavy drumming noise coming from inside the cauldron. Shopkeeper wiped his blood stained hands with a dirty cloth. Chickens inside the coop were annoyed by the noise coming from inside the cauldron. After a while, the noise came down gradually. The keeper took out both the dead chickens from the cauldron, placed it on the wooden stem, ripped off the feathers and within moments, only the reddish flesh alone was there. He put it in a plantain leaf, packed it elegantly and gave it to the boy. The boy paid the money and went out, got himself into the auto, sat near the woman. Auto started and went off.

Now, some chickens in the coop were already sitting. Some were looking emptily here and there. Still other few started eating Ragi that was kept in the small aluminium bowls.

(Translated from Tamil original by the Author).

Ragi- grain.