Thursday, August 08, 2013

Ruling the Roost

Vinnya has an unusual pet: a rooster named Paapi. For the family, he is an unforgettable member

Photo by Mithun Vinod

By Shevlin Sebastian

Nearly two years ago, when C.S. Vinnya, 23, had gone to the local market in Fort Kochi to do some shopping, she saw a man selling chicks. They looked cute. So, she bought one for Rs 10.

This chick has grown to become a full-blooded rooster, whom she has named Paapi. “I liked the sound of the name,” says Vinnya. And like a mother, Vinnya has looked after Paapi, sometimes mollycoddling it, sometimes giving it a whack on the legs when it misbehaves.

The bond between Vinnya and Paapi is clear to see. She puts the rooster on her lap and kisses it. Paapi has a look of bliss. When Vinnya strokes him under the chin, within moments the rooster has closed his eyes. “This is the way I make him go to sleep,” she says. 

But this nap with Vinnya takes place only on Sunday afternoons or on holidays. Otherwise, every night, Paapi sleeps outside, on the steps of the house. Amazingly, Vinnya has taught the rooster to sleep like a human being, on its back, its legs upraised.

While inside, Paapi likes the fan to be switched on,” says Vinnya. “If he goes to sleep, he does so for one-and-a-half hours at a stretch.”

Vinnya’s father, Sreevalsan, a businessman, interjects, and says, “But if he does not sleep, Paapi gets very irritated to see us having a nap. So it will fly to the bed and gently peck us.”

Pecking is Paapi’s weapon. If a stranger comes to the house, it will charge towards him and sent him scurrying away with sharp pecks on the leg. Sometimes, he draws blood. “Paapi gets very angry when children throw stones at him,” says Vinnya.

However, it is not easy to have a rooster in the house. It starts crowing from 3 a.m. and does so numerous times till 6 a.m. But Sreevalsan and his family are so used to the sound that they sleep through it. And every morning, when Vinnya opens the door, one of the first things she does is to give Paapi uncooked rice grains to eat.

When the family has breakfast, Paapi will also come in. There is a plate especially for him placed on the floor. “We give him what we eat,” says Vinnya. This includes dosa, idli and bananas.

But the rooster can be finicky about food. Paapi hates beetroots. If he does not like the taste of some items, he will walk away.

But there are blissful moments for Paapi also. That is when Vinnya gives the rooster his once-a-month bath. She uses Johnson’s baby soap, and shampoo. Vinnya cleans the feathers, so that it becomes a sparkling white.  

Incidentally, Paapi is also weather-conscious. “He enjoys the summer,” says Vinnya. “Paapi dislikes the rainy season because his feathers are always wet.”
Sometimes, the rooster becomes unwell. Then it becomes listless and lies on the ground. “The emotion is visible in the eyes,” says Vinnya. “When it becomes sick or angry or depressed, it will walk away from us. Usually, a week’s tablets given by the veterinarian is enough to heal it. Then it becomes lively once again.”  

Vinnya always gets a sparkling welcome when she returns home after work as a documentation assistant in a shipping firm. Paapi will be waiting atop the low boundary wall.

And when Vinnya appears, there is a joyful reunion, with hugs and kisses by Vinnya.

Paapi also has a soft corner for Sreevalsan, and waits for him to return from the office on his bike. But there are days when Sreevalsan feels so stressed out that he does not notice Paapi on the wall. Immediately the rooster will fly down from the wall and peck Sreevalsan’s legs. So, the businessman has no option but to pick up the rooster and kiss him. “If you show him love, Paapi melts immediately,” says Sreevalsan. 

Incidentally, before she sets out to work, Vinnya ties Paapi’s legs, but with a very long rope, so that the rooster can move around easily. “I don’t want it to get lost,” she says. Inside the house, Paapi walks awkwardly on the smooth tiled-floor, unable to get a proper grip with its claws, while it is a smooth walk on the mud in the garden.

Meanwhile, the family, which consists of Sreevalsan, Vinya, his son, wife and mother has been thinking about Paapi’s future. So a neighbourhood hen was brought in. But Paapi had an unexpected reaction. He ran and hid under the bed. The hen waited patiently at the door, but Paapi refused to come out. “We brought the hen to meet Paapi four times,” says Vinnya. “Each time, he ran away. It seems Paapi does not know what to do.”

So, Paapi lives, more like a human and less like a rooster, having a close and uncanny bond with a young girl and her family. 

(The New Indian Express, Kochi, Kozhikode and Thiruvananthapuram)



  2. interesting story