The origin of this tale is almost as crazy as the tale itself. It started by a weird discussion in the bus with my friend Sabrina. She is a synesthete: each letter of the alphabet has a distinct color for her. Her books are never black print on white paper. The conversation slipped from synesthete who associated tastes to words to the mysterious question “If I taste chicken would someone kissing me taste it too?”
My point is that this story is for Sabrina and my poor abs which suffered the pain of intense laughter. I promised I’d write this. She said I’d be stuck with it until I did. Here it is.
Why? Because there is no such thing as summoning chicken…
An Absurd Fable In Which All Is Almost Lost To The Stomach Of A Man
Granny Kianga stood stiffly amidst the maelstrom. Some may think it was her age that kept her bent over her rustic cane, unmoving while her whole family ran around. Those people would be ill-informed: faith in the loas rooted Granny in place.
She didn’t look like much, to tell you the truth. The years robbed her of softness, colors and body mass. She sported more wrinkles than skin; one might be afraid to touch her and crack the dark parchment. Dark gray colored her from head to toe. Her hair had long lost their shiny darkness and her skin its livelier shades. She was as skinny, angular and crooked as her cane.
Granny Kianga had witnessed a fair share of crisis in the course of her life. This one wasn’t any different. Though her family thought the end of the world nigh, she knew better. She tapped her cane on the wooden floor. It wasn’t the pounding it used to be. No one heard.
She breathed in slowly, filling her chest with air to attack the problem. Not unlike a pufferfish, a silly narrator might comment.
“Fetch me my summoning chicken!”
Now that was a voice that commanded a response. It rang clear as a bell, creaking as a door in desperate need of oil, snapping as said door being slammed shot. Okay, the missing teeth might have made it a little less clear than I described. It sounded more like “Fe’ me my ‘ummo’i’ ‘icke’” but resonated just fine. Let’s not encumber ourselves with the details.
Everyone froze. A few silent seconds passed before eyebrows began to rise. Aunt Rowan walked to her mother’s side to ensure she’d be heard.
“Mama, the summoning chicken is just a story.”
Granny shot a killer glance at her daughter.
“Why do you think I bothered telling it? Knowledge must be passed on. Now fetch the chicken!”
Aunt Rowan sighed. I could almost hear her thought so I ought to tell you that she believed Granny Kianga was senile and took fairytales for reality. She should have known better than to doubt a mambo. That’s the term for a Voodoo priestess, by the way.
“Mama, the summoning chicken isn’t any more real than the goose that laid the golden egg.”
Granny Kianga stuck her cane in Rowan’s foot. My aunt yelped in response, bowing by reflex. Her head came close enough to Granny’s for the old woman to grab her daughter’s ear.
“The golden goose is for stupid people in need of a lesson against greed. The summoning chicken is the solution to our woes. Now fetch!”
Luckily, one of my cousins had obeyed the first time Granny asked. The suspense was killing me. Would we finally get to see Granny summon something with the fabled chicken? These were dire times indeed to demand the intervention of the mystical creature we all heard about at bed time.
My cousin finally walked back in. Empty handed. The shock drove Granny to release Aunt Rowan’s ear.
“Can’t even find the old one that usually hangs out in the deepest niche of the coop.” My cousin shrugged.
Uncle Eliot entered the circle we had instinctively formed around Granny. His face displayed shame but he held his head high.
“There is no such thing as a summoning chicken but there was such a thing as not enough meat for my lunch.”
Granny suddenly turned Technicolor again; a whole lot of red tainted the gray.
“You… ate… the chicken?”
Fury shook Granny so much that her cane made a foreboding beat on the floor. The room sighed disharmoniously. The believers sighed in despair, wondering how we would get out of this mess now that the summoning chicken was gone. The pragmatics sighed with annoyance, thinking this a ridiculous delay when more pressing matters demanded our attention. Some sighed because it seemed the right thing to do. I was one of those; I only hoped Uncle Eliot would get the scolding of a lifetime. I never liked him very much.
“You stupid pig!” To punctuate her insult, Granny rammed the rounded pommel of her cane into my uncle’s stomach with both hands.
As a result, my uncle burped and out of the cloud of bad breath appeared a pig. And, to be quite frank, it did look a bit stupid.
The room gasped in surprise, harmoniously. Granny Kianga grinned.
“Pansy!” She rammed his stomach again. Sure enough, a pansy appeared out of the burp. She kept going and, in the nick of time, we had a bull, a poor fish, a mutton head (which was disgusting), a cracked pot and a bunch of items that could also be insults. The family laughed. I just thanked the loas Granny didn’t think about “prick”. That would have been rather disturbing.
When Granny ran out of clever insults, she rammed my bruised uncle one more time.
“Hot tub!” Sure enough, a gigantic hot tub was summoned. “That’s for my bones. And tomorrow, we shall summon the solution to our other problems.”
The moral of my story is twofold and you would be well-advised to remember them both. First, it is a universal truth that hungry men shouldn’t be left alone with edible goods; they simply cannot understand why you would like to save it for later. Secondly, provided you put some muscle into it, every family mishap can be solved.
Oh! And awesome grandmas are always right!