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My Mother and the Chicken Breast

My grandmother always demanded the chicken breast and if any of us had it, she would kick hell. If she didn’t eat the whole of it at lunch time, she would save it for dinner the next day, making sure none of us got at it. If the next day, she found out we ate it, she would kick hell as well, shouting and screaming with verbal abuse at me, my sisters, brothers and my mother.

In those days we were so poor. If my mother bought a chicken to cook or roast, she would mentally divide the chicken according to the size of the household, so at least each one got a piece. There were the legs of the chicken, breasts, the back and the wings so that everyone could get his share.

Times were hard in those days, my mother had to scrape to meet ends meet, money was definitely in short supply. My mother, used to get irksome with granny on the rare occasion we had chicken. In those days, it was a valued treat. It was not like it is today, where you kind of press the button and come up with a chicken.

Then, we used to see it as a rare bird, before she’d tell my brother to go to the shop, there would be much soul-searching on her part, counting her pennies, and shillings in her zenaar, not once, not twice, but three times to persuade herself to buy the chicken and the kind of things we would need to do without for the rest of that week.

That’s why when my granny bagged the chicken breast she would be especially irritable but keep it bottled up inside herself. You see the breast was the most meaty part of the chicken and very fleshy. On the odd occasion when granny wasn’t with us, say with one of her other sons, my mother would divide the breast between me and my other sister, or between the other two boys, if the choice fell on them to eat this part of the chicken.

Because we were a large family and ate in a round circle on the floor, my father would rarely eat with us. His turn would follow shortly after. He was never much of an eater, he would just pick one or two of the chicken wings that were left, more’s to the point however, mother would have hid these somewhere and bring them out once he sat to eat.

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