At my inlaws’ home, I didn’t take much notice of the chicken habitually roosting in the corner of the room next to the kitchen. Chickens have free run of the first floor of the house (which means we have to watch where we walk) and even have their own sleeping corner.
But my Chinese mother-in-law did notice that chicken, and she didn’t like it one bit.
“It keeps sitting there in the corner, but it won’t lay eggs!” she exclaimed in her booming voice — a voice that is pretty normal out here in the countryside, but would border on argumentative if she were speaking in English.
A few days later, I discovered the cure. I was walking towards the kitchen when I saw it — there it was, this chicken with the black-flecked golden plumage, with its legs tied up and lying on the floor. It was the farm equivalent of being put into a straightjacket, I supposed. Its yellow eyes were wide and scared, as if it had just been beaten — and in a way, mentally, it was getting a beating. Next to it was a pecked, crescent-shaped watermelon rind. Every now and then the frazzled, feathered friend would turn its head and take a bite or two.
Several days later, as promised, my Chinese mother-in-law freed the chicken — and it stopped habitually roosting in the corner.
Weeks later, when I returned from my vacation around China, I asked her about the chicken while she was doing some chores around the kitchen.
“It laid eggs!” she boomed back to me.
Though my Chinese mother-in-law never finished elementary school, she knows a thing or two about a lot — even how to cure a mentally ill chicken. 😉