A Rooster-War Peace Pact

By William J. Furney

Peace has once again descended, like a warm, expansive cloud, on my small patch of paradise. After months of screeching rooster woes, there is nothing now but the tinkling sound of silence – and the odd welcoming, soothing warble of tiny, fluttering birds.

It is bliss, this return to peace in my area of North Kuta, and an unlikely calm given rising tensions with my adjacent rooster-loving neighbour.

As readers will recall some columns ago, my neighbour Mr Fat – as the locals call him, due to his portly stature – decided a while back to renew his love of fowls, and began his feathery quest by caging a rooster in front of his house. This lifelong imprisonment – ahead of a deadly (and illegal) cockfight – causes the unfortunate creatures to shriek out their discontentment from morning till dusk.

They are protesting their lack of freedom, their frustration at being unable to mate. And it is this engineered pent-up fury that explodes in the cockfighting ring.

A few weeks back, after weeks of imploring Mr Fat to call a halt to his prohibited hobby, for the sake of neighbourhood quiet – it is a residential area, not a countryside village – this wall of coarse, ear-splitting screeching suddenly halted. Had Mr Fat read my article bemoaning his lack of understanding? Was he ashamed at his upset? Would now peace reign in our neighbourhood?

I waited three days – 72 hours of uninterrupted sonic calm – before sending over an outsize fruit basket, a carton of confectionery, a bottle of the local brem brew and a note saying “Thanks very much.”

Mr Fat sent them back.

He said he couldn’t possibly accept such gifts for bringing an end to his rooster-raising – because he had no intention of stopping. Apparently the previously installed creature had not made it though a recent cockfight, but there were replacement battalions on the way.

Sure enough, the next morning brought with it a return of the avian wailing and as the weeks wore on, others were added to the flock. It was a chorus of chaos.

The neighbourhood chieftain was consulted again, and again he said he would consult with Mr Fat, and ask him to move the noisy birds elsewhere. But the entreaties failed, and the explosive racket continued throughout the day. Want to watch the news? Forget it. Turn on V India – the highest-decibel music channel – and pop in a set of earplugs to drown out the mighty din.

On Monday night this week – early in the morning, in fact; around 3am, to be precise – a train-wreck of commotion started in my area, as rambling feral dogs broke out in rounds of violent howling and barking, followed by the strident call-to-prayer of the nearby mosque and topped off by the neighbouring set of roosters’ awakening, whose number was now at four.

Later that morning, an envoy was dispatched to try to reason with Mr Fat, and – what do you know? – he instantaneously caved in. Perhaps the hullabaloo had grown too much even for him. His wife had earlier told us she couldn’t stand the sound of the fowls.

Mr Fat, it turns out, was willing to give up his chanticleers, and the entire activity of cockfighting, in return for a fund that would enable him to purchase a rooster for Hindu ceremonies when required. A done deal, it was, and before lunchtime on Tuesday, the four cockerels had been sent away and calm and peace and tranquillity had taken their place.

At the height of our rooster-war, Mr Fat had phoned me up and told me that if I didn’t like the sound of the animals, I could “move house.” He vowed never to give up this nefarious pastime of his and maintained it was the culture of Bali, which, as our governor suggests, it is not.

Our peace pact would last as long as we were neighbours, Mr Fat declared.

So his climb-down, and how swiftly it happened, is stunning. For a person who appeared so entrenched in his position, so set in his ways, to change tacks is a lesson that persistence – with a hefty dose of pointed-out rationale and logic – does in fact pay off.

william@thebalitimes.com

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