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Pok Pok, the country chicken

- Hazel Kocherla, Webmaster

She flew in on a Sunday morning in early May, 2018. We wondered if she'd escaped from the Sunday market on Hennur Road and hoped she’d fly away once she’d had her fill of ants & other itchy boochies in our backyard. We'd got used to the occasional peacock flying in and out and, unlike them, there wasn’t a risk of her weight breaking any roof tiles. She wandered around like she was walking down the food aisles in an overstocked supermarket, excitedly sampling anything that crawled and running helter skelter when I went to get a closer look at her.

On Monday morning I could hear animated voices after the help arrived and two seconds later the gardeners, Azam & Munuswami, rushed in to inform us there was a 'nati' (wild) chicken running around the vegetable patch. We asked them to return her to the Holy Ghost monastery farm as she probably belonged there but were told that the farm had closed many years ago.

Azam and Munuswami promised us that country chickens were very tasty and suggested chicken curry for our lunch. I must have turned green at the thought of eating something that had eye balled me so they asked if they could have her. I wasn’t very excited at the thought of anyone eating her but felt I shouldn't be robbing them of their ‘tasty dish' and agreed that whoever caught her could take her home.

Munuswami was the winner and we saw them tie the hysterical bird and put her in the garage. Later that afternoon I asked him how he was going to take a live chicken in the train when he headed home. He'd made enquiries and, according to him, she’d flown in from the Durga Temple that was close to us and was an exorcist's chicken. A local custom was to buy a white country chicken from the exorcist in the temple who could lure an evil spirit into the bird before cutting its throat to get rid of the spirit. This one was clever enough to fly away - or was it the evil spirit who helped her desperate flight? None of our help wanted to take a restless spirit home so he’d sold her to an unsuspecting watchman across the road. I’d found my excuse to set the bird free and told them to untie the chicken as they shouldn’t sell something that didn’t belong to them. She immediately flew to the highest branch of the mango tree and complained bitterly for the next half hour and I wondered if a spirit infested noisy chicken should be let loose in our old bungalow?

A week went by and she’d taken ownership of the backyard, flying like superbird to the safety of a tree if a cat or squirrel came near her, clucking contentedly at every fruit that fell on the ground, strutting around the vegetables like she was inspecting a parade & dust-bathing in the afternoon before disappearing on a tree at sunset. I got some bird seed when she showed no signs of flying away and we called her Pok-Pok after the Thai chicken dish. She started waking us at dawn by crowing near the bedroom window and we wondered if she was a cock as I didn’t know hens crowed too. After a month she’d grown into a really good looking hen but her tail feathers and comb remained short so her gender was confirmed. Surprisingly she made a really good, hassle free pet and would come running in the morning from wherever she was when I called and stayed alive by outsmarting the stalking cats.

A couple of months passed and in July we returned after a trip and were told that Pok-Pok had started staying away most of the day. For the next couple of days she did come running when I called but disappeared straight after demolishing the birdseed instead of following her usual daily routines. I was sure she was exploring other gardens; she’d done more than her share of tilling, pest controlling and composting in our garden! She didn’t show up on Monday morning when I called and I asked Munuswami to look for her. He scouted around and called me to the mango tree where she normally perched for the night. I looked up at her branch but he pointed to the ground where we could see white feathers. We parted the thick pepper vines and saw a nest with seven eggs. Her nesting instincts had made her an easy prey and a cat had finally got her!

In Memoriam: POK-POK, a fine hen who adopted 3 Cookson Road as her home and laid seven wholesome eggs. She thought she was the cat's whiskers but ended up on them during the night of July 15, 2018. SHE IS GREATLY MISSED.


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