He kept going. He wouldn’t stop.
I hadn’t seen or heard anything like this except on TV. I heard it over and over.
Cole rustled next to me in our little bug-net-canopy bed. “You alive over there? You had me worried yesterday. We were all so exhausted.”
He turned over and looked at me in the dark.”Ash, you okay?” And then I heard it again.
“I’m going to shoot the rooster,” I said very quietly and slowly so the rooster wouldn’t hear my plans.
Cole chuckled a little too loudly and said, “Yep, you’re back.”
“He just keeps crowing and cock-a-doodling! Is this how people wake up in South Sudan?” I asked.
“Yep. It’s the alarm clock of all the villages. But if you listen closely, you’ll hear all the other roosters crowing back to him. You can hear them faintly, filling the whole valley with their voices in the morning.”
As beautiful and poetic as that sentence was, there was nothing beautiful or poetic about the choir of screeches happening outside.
“I’d rather have that rooster fill my plate today. Not fill the valley with it’s dying-cat sounds,” I hissed toward the door. I wanted the rooster to hear me this time.
And I know inside that I’m right. There are a lot of things about Africa that are poetic and full of life: the breezes, the people and their loyalty to one another, the colorful and intricate clothing, the smell of sweet chipati bread in the morning, and the sounds of the valley as you go to sleep.
The roosters do not belong in that list. The voice of a rooster only belongs at a Gamecock football game when we make a touchdown.
Most of you know from reading the rat story that I like naming animals that weird me out. Giving them a name makes me feel a little more in control. And it makes the animal seem less intimidating. So I named the rooster Scuttle. Because this rooster reminded me of what Scuttle did to Ariel when she was having to have a nice, quiet night. All his squawking ruined a perfectly good, relaxing moment.
I should have known. I should have made the connection. When we drove into South Sudan, we saw tons of chickens and goats (gross) walking about, with no boundaries. Just ranging the land. And I thought to myself, “How cute! Little chickens. I bet they will give us eggs everyday! Score. Fresh eggs.”
What I should’ve been thinking is that where chickens are, roosters are. And where roosters are, sleep is not.
I sat there in the dark and thought about how harsh my words were. To shoot a rooster just for doing what he does? I guess shooting a rooster is a bit inhumane.
But eating a rooster isn’t. In South Sudan, eating anything is survival and hope for the future.
So I got up and got ready for the day when it was still pitch black outside. And I prayed that dinner would be chicken. Only for survival purposes of course.
And just to honor Scuttle, I’ll give you one interesting fact about roosters. (I was looking them up to hopefully find that a rooster’s life span is 2 days. I wasn’t so successful).
Did you know that a rooster crowing only at dawn is a myth? Roosters crow all day long. I know, I hear the one outside our door until it goes to sleep. If they wake up early, they will crow because their bored or they are looking for their buddies. They aren’t crowing instinctively in order to wake up the people nearby. They aren’t that compassionate or helpful. They don’t care about waking you up to make sure you get your morning routine accomplished on time. They are crowing just to make noise or to communicate with another rooster. Or perhaps to attract a female.
So know that if a rooster wakes you up, it wasn’t for your good. He was probably hitting on a chicken and woke you up along the way.
I’ll leave you with the sound that graced our morning, just so you’ll feel like you were there:
I should hopefully be posting about our first day’s work in Sudan at the education convention. Photos coming soon!