Johnson the lone rooster

Moana's chicken came nowhere to watching a live one - light up the fireworks in your children's minds. Picture: HAROLD KOI

Another week another story – This is a story of a lone rooster’s survival and affection.

I’m not talking about a rooster in the village or some settlement out of the city – I’m talking about a rooster living in the city suburb, in Suva.

With the stray dogs and cats epidemic in the suburban residential neighbourhood– we have a rooster – recently moved into the concrete jungle suburb for about three months now.

This rooster is a true testament of urban drift, if you ask me, leaving behind the village to take on the urban life. This story is dedicated to those who have kept Johnson alive.

Johnson is alone rooster living in the densely populated neighbourhood Raiwaqa – side by side with people, strays and other predators.

Johnson sleeps on top at the open-ceiling area of a front porch.

A healthy rooster with bright brownish features and pecks at the ground alongside city pigeons and minor birds – can you imagine?

If the alarming number of strays caught was not enough.

In Raiwaqa rubbish collection days are the worse because strays get the garbage before the trucks arrive. Scavenging strays tear up garbage bags and intrude into people compounds to turn over bins for household garbage meal – even household cats are sometimes killed and there was no way a rooster could survive a day without being eaten alive, or taken I thought?.

Johnson had a confrontation with almost everything on its first day in the hood – either some toddlers running after him with a stick or stray dogs.

He used the nearby trees for refuge in the day.

At night he returns to the porch area. Amazingly in the quiet of the morning Johnson can be heard by about 100 households within the surrounding area.

The first time my daughter heard it a crow, right by our rooftop, she was in awe, not like she never saw a chicken – more so she hasn’t seen too many live chickens unless it was dished to her on a plate.

In fact, we have a lot of susu madrai youngsters (born and raised in city life) that never seen a chicken act the way it did.

Johnson’s chicken-walk and pecking was a marvel for the children.

Moana’s chicken came nowhere to watching a live one – light-up the fireworks in your children’s minds. Johnson was just an ordinary chicken heading for the cooking pot.

Over time a family’s plan to do what they were supposed to do with Johnson seemed to linger longer.

Days went on children felt an affection for the rooster and eventually, a name was given – Johnson.

My five-year-old Cassandra came running inside the house shouting Daddy daddy …the kitchen… kitchen!!.

I got up and ran towards the kitchen. Cassy, what’s wrong with the kitchen?

I asked but her face was all amazed and she was pointing outside away from our kitchen – I followed only to find a chicken roaming the footpath!.

Her shouting made me believe the kitchen was on fire! Cala tale.

The chicken got its name from Johnson Rd in Matawalu, Ba.

In fact, it came from there! Not long after Johnson arrived it was let loose.

And over the months Johnson has grown and big enough to fend off hometown mongooses and stray dogs and cats – and the worse predator of them all, people, who somehow have left the chicken on its lonesome.

Johnson was given to a neighbour to do as he pleased with it. In my community cooking methods such as tavu uto (breadfruit cooked over open-fire) is still rife. So Johnson would have been the perfect recipe.

But I wasn’t going to do it. I remember the last night my dad brought home a live chicken.

I was in Class 8 at the time and accompanied our neighbour to kill it according to my father wishes – he says it was a way of life.

Behind our home, my neighbour Moko, grabbed the chicken by the neck and did something I will never forget.

He strangled the poor thing until it was motionless.

 

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