Why did the chicken cross the road? To help you reflect and ponder your existence.
Okay… more on that later.
Last Saturday I took my mum and partner to Ngā Tohu o Uenuku (Mangere Arts Centre) to see the fantastic new play Still Life with Chickens by Samoan writer D.F. Mamea. The slice-of-life story focuses on the character of Mama, who spends many of her waking days in her lush suburban backyard garden.
We hear about her love for her family, but also the heartache that comes with loneliness and growing older. Her garden is her refuge, but also the place where things grow, evolve and change.
She laments the loss of Blackie, the loveable but frustrating cat who now sleeps peacefully in her garden. Seeking comfort and companionship, she develops an unlikely friendship with a moa (chicken) who happens to stumble into her backyard. Despite the moa’s shocked reaction to seeing a box of KFC, Mama is able to tell share thoughts, feelings and secrets with this unlikely ally. Life in Niu Sila is a world apart from the idyllic yet simpler life in Samoa.
I won’t reveal the ending, but all I can say is that inspiration can come from the unlikeliest of sources.
My mum absolutely enjoyed the show and she said it brought make many memories of growing up in the plantations on the island of Savaii in Samoa.
The next day, my mum sends me a message on Whatsapp and it left me feeling gobsmacked…
OMG boys there’s a chicken in my garden same colour & size like the one in the play last night. I told dad the play brought back memories of my childhood & this morning it’s the real thing. I’m having a little cry thinking about your grandma feeding her chickens in her garden. Unbelievable bliss!!!
In the 30 plus years mum and dad have lived in Mangere Bridge, they had never seen a chicken on their property, until Sunday.
The chicken disappeared around the corner and they haven’t seen it again since. Did it come down from Mangere Mountain or Ambury Park? Did it belong to a neighbour?
The logical part of me jumps to that conclusion, but the intuitive side makes me believe there is something symbolic and magical at play.
Maybe it was a sign from a greater bring or spirit. My mum said she felt it was her mum telling her to take our family to Samoa to visit her, grandpa, my Aunty Zera, and others who have passed before us. I truly believe this.
Rather amazingly (and unfortunately), I am the only person in my immediate family who hasn’t visited Samoa. My sisters spent a small part of their childhood living in Samoa, but they came back to NZ when I was born.
A big part of me is yearning to connect with my homeland, the place where my ancestors came from. What would make it even more special would be to experience it with my mum and dad so they can show me where my grandparent lived. I already know I will feel overwhelmed, blessed and complete when I step foot in Samoa.
Chicken. A word that can be used to describe someone who is feeling like a coward. Chicken. A word that describes a food source, much loved by many. Chicken. A simple animal, but also with its quirks and and eccentricities.
A metaphor for life? You betcha.