The American new year began with new life – six of them, in fact. My landlady's younger dog had its first litter of six tiny little puppies, five black and one white with two black spots on his back.
The puppies have not been the only recent addition to the compound. One day last week as I was washing clothes in the yard beside the house, KB came outside and exclaimed, "When did that get here?" I looked up to see a large brown rooster standing on the concrete walk between the house and the renters' rooms. I asked my landlady about it, and she replied, smiling, "Christmas! Doro wot!" Apparently we are hosting our holiday dinner as a guest at the compound until the time comes to eat him for Ethiopian Christmas next week. KB and I watched amusedly as our Christmas chicken dinner clucked, bobbed, and wandered awkwardly around the compound, feet tethered together by a ribbon of old cloth. I doubt he perceived the irony when he wandered into the kitchen that would serve as the site of his eventual demise. Nor did he seem to perceive the danger as he stumbled repeatedly toward the barn housing my landlady's two dogs, so my landlady had to continually beat him away with a slender switch, causing him to squawk and hop clumsily away on his tethered feet. This dance repeated between the rooster and my landlady all around the compound yard for a good fifteen minutes, providing great amusement for KB and myself as we watched from the window of the house.
As I write this, I can hear my Christmas dinner crowing in back of the house. It seems to be no deterrence that everyone in the compound has been awake for about three hours now (assisted by his wake-up call). I doubt this is healthy in light of his preordained resting place inside our stomachs, but KB and I have named him Hank. Lately, Hank has been intent on entering my house, and after a multitude of failed attempts to discourage him, we have settled on a working arrangement in which he is allowed to come inside provided:
(1) he leaves no chicken poops behind him, and (2) he proceeds directly in the straight path from my back door to my front door and out onto the front porch without deviating. I have warned him that if either of these stipulations is violated, I will eat him immediately. Thus, every day around noon, as the sun passes over the house from the back yard to the front, Hank struts in through the back door, announcing his presence with claws clicking on the tile floor, emerges from the kitchen into the living room, stares at KB and me for a bit, and then bobs his way out the front door to rest in the warmth of the sunny porch. He has become an establishment in my Ethiopian home life; I think I will miss him when he is gone.