A woman, a rooster and a love that couldn't be

PUBLISHED : Monday, 03 May, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 03 May, 2004, 12:00am

A widow who shared her bed with a rooster for 2 1/2 years is heartbroken after she was forced to give it away because of complaints about its crowing.

The 61-year-old tenant of a public flat in Chai Wan said she handed over her feathered companion just over a month ago rather than face being reported for running afoul of the law. 'I cried and cried for weeks,' said the woman, who said her neighbours threatened her with eviction.

The rooster was moved to Lamma Island after a veterinarian attempted to castrate it to stop its crowing. The operation failed.

The former hospital worker still shares her one-bedroom flat with three ducks and two hens.

She said she bought the rooster, known as 'Ah Lui', in the Aberdeen wet market for $25. After her husband's death just over three years ago, she started sharing her bed with the male chicken. 'The rooster was very obedient and loyal,' said the woman, who asked not to be named.

'We used to sleep together but had different blankets.

'I was used to its crowing. Sometimes I would put him under the blanket to try to keep him quiet. I could sleep with the crowing. It wouldn't wake me up.

'He was more loyal than a dog. Whenever I called him from the living room, he would come out from the kitchen saying 'coo-coo'. I am particularly fond of the rooster because he listened to me. I miss him very much.'

According to Chinese tradition, a rooster could take on the spirit of a deceased husband or act as a proxy groom at a wedding if the real groom could not attend. But the woman said she did not think of Ah Lui as carrying her husband's spirit, she was simply very attached to him as a pet.

The woman said she had a daughter with whom she had not been in touch for more than 10 years.

She said she treated her poultry 'as my own children'.

The three ducks and two hens live in a small kitchen on a newspaper-covered floor. A strong odour hangs in the air.

She said the threat of eviction had forced her to make the emotional decision to give the rooster away.

'The government has the power. It is better not to fight. But I do blame my neighbour for reporting me to the building management.'

The Wan Chai veterinary surgeon who attempted to operate on the rooster said it was a 'highly unusual case'.

The doctor said removing the testicles of a chicken was a very costly and difficult procedure.

'The operation developed complications in that excessive bleeding ensued after I had removed one testicle.

'It took about half an hour to arrest the bleeding and I aborted the procedure.

'This chicken now has only one testicle and crows half as much. This would not be sufficient for the housing authority and I was reluctant to go in again.'

Ah Lui now lives happily in his new home on Lamma.