There’s a Chicken in My Room
I went to the village of Ramo to immerse myself in two languages. Vincent, my host, was talking about my room, and he told me that a dog was getting the chicken eggs, so he moved the chickens. I heard “chickens”, but then, Pidgin isn’t always precise. Vincent said something about moving the chickens up where the dog couldn’t get to them. I didn’t quite know what that meant. I didn’t see any chicken coop, but I didn’t get a chance to look at the back side of the house, either. Or maybe there was some space between the ceiling downstairs and my room upstairs for the chickens? The house didn’t have the smell of the chicken coop I knew as a kid. I let the location of the chickens go as one of those mysteries of living in a new culture I didn’t understand, and tried to focus on what else Vincent was trying to tell me.
That night, when I turned off my flashlight, I could hear the chickens, but I didn’t know where they were.
Later that evening, I heard some sounds. I thought it was a mouse or a rat. I flicked on the flashlight but saw nothing. I checked the food I had in the room to make sure it was untouched and tried to go back to sleep on my mat on the floor.
The next night the same happened. I heard sounds I couldn’t explain, flicked on the light, and saw nothing.
The next morning, everything became clear. In a nook formed by two walls and a bookcase, I saw seven or eight eggs. A nest was right there in my room. I looked up. Yes, I was in a two story hut made almost completely of jungle materials, but there was still space above the walls, below the thatched roof, where a chicken could get through easily enough.
Later, I was using my computer in my room and I heard a chicken making some racket. I looked up and saw a hen sitting on top of the door frame. She didn’t leave. She just sat there squawking at me in irritation. She wants to lay an egg, I thought, and I’m in her way. I picked up my computer and moved, shaking my head as I went. I had to clear out of my room for a chicken.
I went to other villages for two nights. When I came back, I started to put up my mosquito net in the same room.
I turned around. The hen sat in the nook, just two or three feet behind me. I had forgotten she had rights to the room, too. I was invading her space. “I’m not going to hurt you,” I said. She squawked a couple of more times, but then settled down. She seems to have accepted me now, for the most part, and we are peacefully staying in the same room as I type.