Heather in Senegal

Saturday, October 27, 2007

When the neighbor's chicken started hanging out in my hut I thought it was adorable. My family told me she had made the trek just to visit me, and I liked the novelty of having a chicken pay me a social call. A few minutes later she unceremoniously dropped a wet little gift on my freshly swept floor, and I chased her out. But when my will is tested against that of a chicken I come up short. She kept returning to my hut, and given the choice of chasing her out again and again, being unsocial and shutting my door, or sweeping up the occasional chicken scat, I chose the third. She has become a daily presence, and I quickly saw what a fool I had been, and what a blessing she was. To all my friends in NYC suffering the bed-bug infestation, I say, find a chicken! I can not kill my ants or termites myself. I would feel too guilty. But I relish the sight of my chicken friend pecking in the holes in my cement floor and under my mattress, devouring the little fiends who are responsible for my thin cement floor crumbling under my feet (I have fallen through twice, though only dropping an inch or two), the holes in my matress, the termite lines on my wall (see pic), the destruction of three evidently tasty books that I left too long on the floor, and so much extra dust in my hut. Murder, my fair chicken. May my hut be your buffet.
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
I also have a lot of spiders in my hut. They perch too high to be threatened by the chicken. I like spiders, and I figure these spiders are another line in my defense against malaria. But the problem with spiders is that they lay eggs, and when these eggs hatch tiny itchy baby spiders go running up my legs by the hundreds. I don't particularly mind this. They tickle, and then they go on to find their corners and suck the life out of mosquitos. But my boyfriend visited and said he could not sit on my couch so long as the dozen or so unhatched eggsacks remained woven to the bamboo-work. He threatened to be ruthless with the eggs, so I did my best to gently sweep them up and carry them outside. Despite my best intentions, I suspect many little spiders never came to be because of me. During my bucket bath the next morning I noticed something wedged deep in my bellybutton. I thought it might be a small piece of dry grass fallen from my roof, and I sent a fingernail down after it. It was a spider. Perhaps it was the mother of one of the eggsacks, furious about what I had done to her eggs, determined to reach and destroy mine? I have never before found a spider in there. I am through sweeping up eggsacks.
While I was in Dakar a pregnant pussycat moved into my hut. By the time I got home she and her kittens were living in a corner under my crumpled plastic sheets. We lived together in peace for a few days, and I was delighted by my new roomate. If I was in a room when she wanted to enter she would poke her head in the window and meow, I would leave, and she would jump in. Despite the great temptation when she was out, I never touched her young. I offered her water, and I gave her my most cherubic grin each time I passed her nest. But one day she left, and the sound of kittens tumbling under plastic was replaced by the quieter tumbling sounds of cockroaches. That corner is a storage place for me, so I had no reason to go there until I recently dropped some ginger on the tarp and it fell into the folds. I hestitantly lifted the plastic, and a colony of cockroaches glared at me. They stood their ground until I started to shake the plastic. I discovered a plastic bag under the tarp with a disturbingly kitten-ish weight to it. The image of a cold, abandonned kitten snuggling into a bag for warmth and for a coffin made me sick to my stomach. I have dealt with a mouse flattened under my bed, ostensibly killed by my sitting too suddenly, a lizard that I mortally wounded when sliding my suitcase across the floor, a mouse that died after nibbling a hole in a bag of pesticide I had irresponsibly left on the floor, a frog that went belly up and rigid in my front doorway, and countless dead cockroaches, but a dead kitten was too much. I called in a friend. He found it was my long missing bag of nails.


At 4:05 PM, Blogger Ellia said...

I'm having a hard time deciding which of these newly posted stories is my favorite. It might be this one.

At 10:58 AM, Blogger Netta said...

This one is definitely my favorite. I remember in Israel when I was 8 I swore my cousin drove over one of the many feral cats roaming the highly trafficked streets. I screamed and cried until finally we turned around to discover it was a piece of tire. I still have my doubts.


Post a Comment

<< Home