Rough Neighborhood

rough neighborhoodMy 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!

Snake WranglingWhat 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.

Snake Wrangling2Armed 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.

Snakes in a BagNow 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.


12 thoughts on “Rough Neighborhood

  1. As-salaamu alaikum brother Zayn,

    hey…just the right size for a python belt, don’t you think?
    Interesting reading you got here and will be back often.

    Just wanna thank you for linking my blog here and highlighting the Amman (photo-set), I am not a ‘Photographer’ by profession but a ‘trigger happy shutter bug’.

    I love the your photos of Shaykh Muhammad Hisham Kabbani, our great scholar and Sufi teacher, I miss him…any news he will be in Asia soon?

    May God Bless you with your wonderful work here.

  2. wa alaykum salam! Thanks for the kind words. Shaykh said he would be coming in August for an Islamic conference of some sort at Universiti Malaya. I’ve browsed UM’s website for more information but haven’t found anything yet. Whoever hears something first informs the other – deal?

  3. How sad that the chicken family has been destroyed! How dangerous is the python to humans? (mom)

  4. A fascinating account, Dear Brother Zayn 🙂 In Allah’s wisdom, all things must eat. The python ate Juliet, and someone will eat the python. May Allah bless you and your family.

    Ya Haqq!

  5. What a tale! Here in Minnesota, we have a chicken coop on the grounds of the Waldorf School (9 acres). The 3rd grade class is responsible for taking care of the chickens, each year. Last spring, I arrived on a Sunday morning to find 2 carcasses of our beloved chickens in the pen. Couldn’t believe it, virtually all that was left was the skeleton, with feathers scattered all around. There was a survivor inside the coop, in utter shock. At first I thought a cat had gotten in, or a fox, but was told they don’t leave chickens like that – may have been a weasel. My question (similar to your mom’s) is – isn’t there a danger of python’s striking at a human being?

    Anyway, hope you’re all well. Glad your mom passed on your site to me.

  6. Hi Jeff! Glad you dropped by! A python of that size is not a significant threat, but they get bigger. And bigger. There is at least one human victim on record within the last 10-15 years in Malaysia. The only difference between this python and that one is size; the bigger they get, the higher up the food chain they go.

  7. Salam Bro Zainal.Congratulations for your todays new born baby.You live in Taman Won rite?If i’m not mistaken,Ridhwan usually come back from school wif my sister,Noraini. But i’m suprise to know you in this digital world.From your photo,i guess you are the disciple of Shaikh Hisham Kabbani from Haqqani Sufi order.Hope we can know each other better next time.

    Ya Huu

  8. Wow, time goes. Now the baby’s born. Congrats!

    Irving: Snake eats chick, Chinese eats snake, who will eat the person who eats the snake then?

    Several years ago, in Segamat, a python ate a man. Then the local newspapers (typical) ran more news on python – eating goats, cows, and even a motorcycle!

    And when some naughty people sent sms about Anaconda in Muar, people as far as from Singapore and Perlis came to the small town to see it.

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