Kuttetan was a terrorist. He terrorized me in the way a seven-year old can be terrorized – purely and entirely; cold terror flowed from the edge of my goosebumps to my dilated pupils whenever I saw him.
But before Kuttetan became a terrorist, he became a proud rooster. He strutted his red comb in front of a world that he could not understand because of his narrow rooster-like worldview and held his head high.
But unlike regular roosters who also sometimes hold their heads high (to monitor an eagle in the sky, for example) Kuttetan did it self-consciously. He had come to realize that he can remember his past all the more well when he did this.
This past isn’t his – not at a personal level. But then again, don’t we all identify with events and ideologies that are strictly speaking, not of our own making. So, Kuttetan walked around in this chicken-loving world, brooding and terrorizing me.
I could not step out of my house – my very own ancestral house without being chased by him. The angry Kuttetan was a sight to behold. Not that I had time to stop running and be overawed by this half-domesticated, half-monstrous creature that I lived with. But terror demonized his every movement, so much so that his light-footed scamper were repeated thuds beating against my anxious heart, his stare was “I see through your supposed child-like innocence”. I clung to my ideas of sapien superiority while trying to skirt the issue of Kuttetan’s past repeatedly.
Kuttetan had a gory past. Most rooster’s live out their lives in pens and farms seeing more blood of kith and kin than we ever see on our plates, but Kuttetan’s life experience was rather unique. He lived in a free home. When he was brought to this home, there had been expectations of nurture, freedom, happiness and fulfillment. But he lost two of his siblings within weeks of moving in to this new home.
I remember how the three of them were brought in. Bundled together with more chicks than I could count; in a small circular basket with a little hay to pad their claws. They looked scared. They were colorful too. The three children in the house picked out three chicks to own (read nourish, protect, etc). Kuttetan was yellow. Another was green and the third one was pink. We should have known then – Kuttetan was the named one. Names are important – It is through our identity that we negotiate with society.
We were children. We made mistakes. But since we were children, we were also open to learning from our mistakes. But some mistakes make wounds that fester for generations and leave scars. Kuttetan carried the scars of our collective mistakes and he brooded and terrorized.
My cousin built a house out of all the loose bricks that he could find for his lovely pink chick. Resources were scarce and his ideas of structural strength of buildings were weak. The roof of the house caved in on the pink chick before he could enjoy the ambiance of his hastily built home.
Kuttetan had probably heard the noise of the disaster. They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
I myself cannot claim to have had any such intentions. Nor did I have my cousin’s imagination or energy. I merely forgot to steer my little green chick into its pen in the evening – lethargy and books won over mundane duties. An industrious wild cat (wild because the green chick deserves at least that) made a meal of the tiny one that night.
Kuttetan stared at me that day when I went to inspect the green feather and paw prints on the ground.
Kuttetan brooded and as soon as he developed the red comb and wattle – his chief instruments of terror – he made it his life’s mission to chase me and my cousin around the house whenever he could. Afternoons were his favorite time. That was when we were most vulnerable. The adults would be taking their siesta. And by the time it was evening and they were up, his day’s work would be done.
No one believed our stories of traumatic afternoons. Kuttetan was merely chicken for the adults. Until one day! I stepped out of the backdoor of the house, looked ahead, left and right. I saw Kuttetan stand in the extreme end of the backyard gnawing with his lethal claws, the ground. I ran to the clothesline, managed to pick up one or two clothes before Kuttetan realized that there was a bigger prey in the ground. He charged. I ran back. The clothes mom had washed now lay in the puddles. But there were other things to worry about. With Kuttetan almost at my heels, I ran into the house. The fat, lethargic child that I was, I tripped and fell near the steps. Kuttetan, agile and breathing vehemently stood on a raised step. I looked at him through my chubby fingers that were covering my face and tried to judge his next step. Kuttetan stood there – years of pent up suffering forgotten. Anger and hatred now guided his actions. With all the might that his rooster body could muster, he pecked me.
Bleeding from my nose I ran to the adults. They believed me this time. The blood was my media; my hate-spewing advertiser. Maybe we could have dealt with the issue differently. But we killed Kuttetan. I ate him. Maybe I was pleased that day.
And that is the tale of Kuttetan, the terrorist.
*Disclaimer, explanations and the like : The story is real. The characters are and were real. The emotion and reasoning are of course imagined. Kuttetan is Kuttan + Chettan. Chettan means elder brother(Bade Bhaiya). Kuttan is an endearing name for a boy.