My wife woke with a start just after 5, a few minutes before subuh prayer. The glow of her cell phone cum time piece was still on her face when she heard a loud sickening snap, crunch and pop coming from the backyard. Shortly, the chickens started squawking at DefCon 3 levels. That wasn’t enough to wake me up, but after some prodding and poking I mustered and stumbled out the door to investigate. In the early twilight, without a flashlight, I made my way to the coop. I passed my hand over the door – still locked. But what was that dark mass protruding out from the corner of the door? The cold, sleek, muscular body of a python, that’s what!
What a rough neighborhood to be a chicken. Cats and dogs were a constant threat and harried my poor flock, and I knew biawaks were a potential danger, but I never imagined I’d be up against a python in the middle of Kuching. Well, if he had swallowed poor Juliet, he wouldn’t be able to get out of the cage anytime soon. I went in to pray and get the kids off to school.
The sun came up as I returned from the madrasah and I reluctantly prepared to get my parang and do battle with the chicken rustler. When I got home though, I saw our neighbor’s handyman already at work. Apparently my wife had mentioned the situation to the neighbors and they thought, why let that good fortune go to waste? Some Chinese Malaysians prize python soup as a delicacy and are willing to pay top dollar for it. Good for men’s health I’m sure. The handyman thought he could get 20RM a kilo for a live specimen.
Armed with just a steel rod and a sturdy plastic rice bag, the guy coaxed and wrangled the python for a good 15 minutes. I imagine its total extended length was about five feet long, and solid muscle. When extending, the body would get as thin as an inch or two, but when it would contract, it would form a knot of muscle the size of a softball. Finally with a few well-timed thwacks to the head, the stunned but still very much alive python was wrapped up and secured inside the rice bag.
Now the three remaining chicks are orphaned. Romeo the Rooster abandoned them to their fate as the sun went down that evening. I don’t know where he roosted, but he clearly wasn’t going anywhere near the cage. Neither were the three chicks, who wandered around the yard in a daze as the sun went down, chirping plaintively, sticking together but steadfastly avoiding my efforts to herd them to the cage. Finally, desperate as the light faded, I gave chase to the orphans. I managed to catch one, and then another, but as I caught the second, the third little chick took off like a streak of lightening and disappeared. We’ll see if he makes it through the night.