We sat to drink tea with my girl last week.
My girl and I were clutching our flesh on the edge of an overly stuffed cushion in a crowded joint that housed a millennial of jumpy curls, folds of un-detained energy and too much colour dripping from navel-naked tops and artificial finger nails. The ambience was… well, plastic. Forgive my trotting eyes that caught a glimpse of six hippies curled up in a table adjacent to ours. Clearly repulsive to the presence of every heart in the room, the lot chanted their conversations. Well spiced with torrents of screeching laughter. Afraid that their indecent talk would replace my favourite tunes in the morning shower, I looked deeper into my plate.
Two pieces of chicken, polished in grease stared at me. Almost aware that I was deeply cursing their state. I was actually trying to figure out whether indeed this was part of the brood my neighbour back in the village had brokerage-d at a throw-away price when she couldn’t swallow the bitter gulp of losing all her herd in a night to chicken flu. I could see the dead chicken on a ride to the city at the back of a rusty van sweating in the January heat, anticipating to make it in life. Well, make it in a governor’s stomach.
But not so soon dear chicken; life is a stepping stone and so is every hall mark of achievement. They would have to wait in the deep freezer mingling with their fleeting counterparts as each shared their story on how they got there. As they would learn, theirs was a decent death, their cold friends had been poisoned. Apparently, their master’s ignorant son was high on something (not water) they had guessed it was anger that burned out in smoke from his nostrils. He had flushed a fussy laugh at them before ‘caramelizing’ their feeding troughs with white powder, happily they let free their appetites only to lose sight of their beings. But they were glad they would make it to a human body; that was prestigious enough!
Flashes of light stomping my forehead raptured my chicken tale. The hippies were posing archived smiles at lenses. The camera flash would roll from one face to another before eventually landing on the ‘dead chicken’ in the plates. I could almost feel those plates whimper; like dwarfs caught up in a stampede. I had to hide my poky face behind the lean structure of my girl, lest I stumbled upon my face in a meme that denoted the hazards of photo-bombing the following day.
My girl was rather at home, separating the chicken skin from the bone. I watched the flesh hide in her mouth. It wasn’t until I saw her throat contract that I had the audacity to ‘enjoy’ the meal in my plate; I had my backing in as much as eating dead chicken was an issue.
‘So, how have you been’ that was meant to help distract my mind that was already questioning my neighbour on why she had to sell those lifeless birds.
‘I have been good’ she had another bite, larger than the former.
‘And how is he doing?’ she knew who I meant.
‘Ummmh I don’t know’ she said twitching her lips in a jeer that actually suggested ‘I don’t care’
I could read lips… at the moment. ‘Mind sharing what happened?’
‘He benched me…. I no longer cry on his shoulder’
No tissue was needed here, she looked just fine, like she had just lost a pencil. I wasn’t surprised either as I didn’t expect a wedding out of that ‘thing’.
I wanted to hear more before these birds tortured me.
‘He got a chocolate substitute, he is chasing the ball, harder now like it is his first time on the pitch’ she was licking the ketchup on her finger. ‘I won’t deny it, I still wish he was patient with me, maybe I would have learned the rules to his game and we would score!’
I was amused! That’s not how Juliet would cry over Romeo; licking ketchup and swallowing chicken? She wasn’t Juliet anyway. This talk only seemed to quicken her appetite, or maybe eating was her stress-coping technique.
Tossing her plate to the side, she grabbed the napkin to her lips, wiped her hands then cupped her chin in them. She was ready to rant, I guessed.
‘Can you imagine how that feels? To gain the applause of a filled stadium? To carry a trophy to our cabinet? To appear on the cover of the dailies in marching jerseys, flaunting our championship with perfect smiles? To go up the medal table beating all other teams?’ nothing changed not even her eyes; they shone not with tears but the joy her imaginations brought.
I imagined a camporee of ‘millennials’ in blue and green wigs, coupled in the stadium seats, high on infatuation, dancing hard and dirty to imported lyrics, cheering on my girl because she and him wore matching socks.
‘I would have loved to house his ecstasy’ she rolled her eyes, the only thing that would fall off was her fake lashes. Not tears.
‘Oh! The spendthrift romance of millenials’ I cried inside. ‘The kind that loons over storo bonus and aches fingers typing messages then in no time you call him and he says ‘let me close the fridge door I’ll get back to you!’
I was feeling old already as my girl sat there waiting for my reaction. The hippies had left, there was a gleaming sense of sanity. I had to ask her the questions that raced my heart…
‘Where is our place in this world of technical intimacy?
You know I’m gone when the ticks are blue. You delete my photos and your memory of me is lost. We talk about food and favourite places and claim to know each other! The world of clutter and chaos where the sound of the wind is refuted by ringtones and taverns replace nature’s beauty. Oh! The cosmetic beauty of a sere world painted in black, silencing nature.’
“What now, you preparing a speech on this?” her sarcasm was starting to crawl.
“What do you make of a relationship?” I almost knew what the answer would be.
“Happiness?” it came out as a question.
“So how would you define happiness?” I quipped
“Ummh, if he treats me well, shows me to his friends…yeah!”
“You mean; buy you chicken, take you on vacation and endorse you on twitter?”
“Ahaaa, sort of” she confirmed
Sort of meant exactly!
I could almost smell the stench of the dead chicken at the back of a rusty van in the January heat being transported from our village to the city. To us they were dead, to hopeful romantics they were a sign of love; how ironic. I wanted to tell her just how chicken was not a good idea, she should have opted for something else, something that was not dead. Maybe a home-made meal carried out to a picnic? That way she would know what she really was feeding on, not in a crowded joint stacked with brownies that looked like the rainbow, and greased chicken that was dead. That was not how we found love….. Not among the dead.
“You get what you ask for. Instead of demanding mall tours and snap chat stories, wouldn’t you rather have him buy you a blank 200 paged book and you could recount each year spend together in every page? I don’t think he would want you to note about matching socks and shoelaces. He would want to read deeper than public ovation. More of you to please?”
I hoped this would be the last conversation we would have over dead chicken. Continue reading