How my Chinese mother-in-law cured a mentally ill chicken

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. 😉

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5 Replies to “How my Chinese mother-in-law cured a mentally ill chicken”

  1. How’s this for ironic: my mentally ill mother-in-law cured a Chinese chicken. She did so because she cures all her prepared meats.

    I stop by to check in today. I’m glad the blog is alive and feeding those of us who are less culturally diverse.

    I’ll be back. Take care, jim kenny

  2. Hehe, Speaking of the chinese mother in laws, my czech wife could tell you few things about them. My mother has been introducing many chinese traditional elements or ways of life to her in a how shall we put it, ” forceful fashion” of course with the best intention that every chinese mother in law would have. First it was the chinese horoscope, to see if we are compatible as a couple, okay the female tiger and snake is not so ideal, then the fengshui when we moved into a new house after our wedding, the house has a southern exposure, approved! now is the acupuncture and herbal medicines, because my mom wants to be a grandmother soon and she thinks these chinese secret remedies could help my wife to become more “fertile”, so my job would be translating or even sometime filtering my mom’s wishes, then somehow purpose them to my wife in a more culturally acceptable way:) it hasn’t been easy as you can imagined, but we also had a lot of fun with those ” lost in translation” moments.

    1. Michael,

      A “lost in translation” moment indeed! I found your comment so fascinating and amusing! I can relate to many of these experiences…the horoscope, the traditional Chinese remedies. It sounds like, from your wife’s perspective, being married to you has never left her with a dull moment, eh? 😉

      Thank you so much for sharing!

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