It just did not make sense! Roosters are supposed to cock-a-doodle at sunrise, right? Well, somehow the rooster outside our window had not heard that. He exerted a great amount of energy to wake us up at 3:16 AM, 4:25 AM, and then again at 5:00 AM one morning.
Our family had returned to the Middle East at the end of the summer from the States to find that a stray rooster had taken up residence in the cool, green hedge right outside our gate. It paraded around each day entering and exiting the shadows afforded by the hedge. This would have been just fine with us, except for the matter of the messed-up internal time clock in this particular rooster.
The first three nights this rooster cock-a-doodled between 3:15 and 3:30 AM, I sat bolt upright in the bed at the first cry. My “mommy antennae,” which I always thought were fine-tuned to the cries of my own children, must have been askew, for I dashed out of the room first to Rebekah’s room and then to John’s, only to find that my sweet children were slumbering peacefully. Of course, the adrenaline was rushing and my heart was pounding after each of these mad dashes directly out of a deep state of sleep. No amount of counting sheep or remembering relatives and friends in the night watches could put me back into the beautiful state of rest that had been so rudely interrupted. My husband too tossed and turned on the bed muttering about that “crazy rooster.”
One night, my husband caught me as I sat bolt upright, poised to take off to the children’s room. “Ann, it’s that crazy rooster. Go back to sleep!” he said, hoping that perhaps sleep would truly return. Since I had not made the mad dash that night, my heart was beating more normally. Getting back to sleep would have been a good plan, except that just when I began to drift off, the rooster sounded off again…and again…night…after night…after night. Needless to say, the sleep deprivation was getting to us.
Patience is a virtue. We were certain that we would become accustomed to the sound of this natural alarm just as we are now to the call to prayer sounding from the mosque. But no, the grating, high sound of this sick rooster was getting to us. There was no adjustment.
My husband, who is also my hero, decided to do something about the problem. He thought that the first plan of action should be to discover where that fowl hid at night. So in the wee hours of one morning he tiptoed through the darkness to the front door, all the while listening to constant cock-a-doodling. But just as he silently opened the front door, the noise ceased. He waited…and waited…“Come on, come on! Just one cock-a-doodle!” he thought. The wait was in vain. That rooster knew it was being stalked and was too smart to make a peep at that particular moment.
Not to be deterred, the next day my husband proudly showed me his newly created “rooster catcher.” The children were delighted! They wanted to be in on this adventure. The rooster catcher was a long broom handle with a curved hanger duct-taped to the end. The hanger was open but grew slowly tighter so that it could hook around the rooster’s neck to prevent escape. The plan was to hook the rooster, put it in a large box, and take it around to all the neighbors to see if anyone was missing this prize specimen of a cock. If the rooster could be restored to its rightful owner, we might once again be able to sleep peacefully through the night. The prospect of a full night of sleep was making us giddy!
My husband was just as excited as the children. He came home from work early the next day to catch that rooster in broad daylight. He, our children Rebekah and John, and the harris (the Indian gardener/security guard our landlord employs) went out to hunt the noisy bird down. Sadly, they trooped back into the house after about a half-an-hour reporting that the rooster was no where to be seen. Outsmarted again!
The next day, John reported that the harris had made and set rooster traps—little nooses for its feet. If it stepped in one, it would be caught. I telephoned the adult daughter of the neighbor across the street to see if she knew if the rooster belonged to anyone in the neighborhood. I needed to know what to do with the rooster if we caught it! She knew nothing, offered her sympathy, and hung up. So, my husband went back to work and the children and I went to do some errands, all of us hoping that somehow someone or something would be successful in catching the rooster.
In a few hours I came home, opened the gate and saw the harris disassembling the rooster catcher. When I questioned him on the matter, the harris flashed me a big smile and said, “Rooster gone!”
“Gone?” I exclaimed, surprised. “Did you catch him?”
“No,” he replied. He then went on to explain that my friend, the daughter of the neighbor across the street, had come out with her cook and harris. They had tried to catch the rooster for us after hearing that we were adversely affected by its songs in the night. All three were unsuccessful. Later, when all was quiet, the cook across the street decided to try again. Without permission from our neighbor his employer, he had called his friend and they finally caught the rooster with their bare hands.
Our harris proceeded to gesture with his finger and slid it across his throat with a sick smile. I was horrified! These men caught the rooster and then slit its throat! The harris told me that they were going to cook it and eat it. He seemed so happy that these men had outsmarted the old cock and now were going to savor its taste.
I immediately ran inside to telephone my husband. I was hanging on a balance between elation at the prospect of a good night’s sleep, and dread at having to explain this to the owner of the rooster, if we were able to identify him.
My husband talked to the owner of the house across the street who was unaware that his cook was involved in the violent deed. He seemed quite upset at the news, saying that it was illegal to kill the rooster. He then proceeded to question the cook, who told him that his own daughter, my friend, instructed him to catch and kill the rooster.
The plot was getting quite thick now. The daughter called to speak with my husband and told him that she never gave the order to kill. She then volunteered to go to the neighbors next door to see if the rooster belonged to them. She proceeded to say that she would tell them that a street cleaner did it. This was her way of helping us—to lie for us!
We, of course, told her that we would be prepared to tell the whole truth and pay for the rooster. Our prayer was that this would open up the opportunity to show how to solve complex problems such as this one in a righteous way.
That night, we chuckled as we thought through the events of the saga, which we named As the rooster crows… We slept peacefully for the first time in a month with the prayer on our mind that the Lord would use this misadventure to glorify His name in our neighborhood!