By Margo Wayman
Bulaq, the rooster, woke up a few minutes before sunrise. He stretched his wings. They were covered with black feathers, with an odd yellow and red one mixed in. He yawned and reached up to scratch the red comb on top of his head, then rubbed his beak. "Time to get up," he said, jumping up off the pile of hay hed slept on. He walked out of the wooden coop and looked up into the pre-dawn sky. He stretched again then flapped his wings. He flew up to the top of the coop where he perched, looking at the horizon.
The sky was beginning to lighten . It was filled with deep purples, reds and blues. The dark night sky was vanishing quickly. He took a deep breath of air and let out the loudest cock-a-doodle-do he could. He crowed thirteen times. As he finished the last crow, the sun began to rise, its golden rays spilling onto the vast desert. The sand, that once looked black and empty, came to life as the suns fingering rays carpeted it. The coral pink color seemed as fire. Little creatures and insects began to creep out from under the rocks and boulders dotting the barren landscape.
The roses growing on bushes near the coop turned crimson red. Bulaq could see that the leaves took on a brilliant emerald green glow. The carnations became as pink as a babys soft skin; the sunflowers looked like creamy yellow butter and the daisies became white, instead of gray.
Bulaq hopped off the coop and began scratching the pebbly ground. Bugs came scurrying out from underground, heading for safety, but Bulaq was too fast for them and gobbled them down quickly. He held a wiggling spider in his beak; its legs, long and spindly, tasted delicious as he swallowed it. A fat juicy grub inched its way across the sand in a desperate attempt to get away, but Bulaq ran over to it and enjoyed it for breakfast.
Soon the other animals in the farm began to stir. Bulaq stood proudly, watching the hens come out of their coop to begin their day. Each one was plump and covered in snow white feathers. Bulaq watched the goats as they scampered about the rocks, bleating and clomping through the bushes, looking for a tasty plant or seed to eat.
Bulaq looked up into the sky. The sun was well up now. The sky, a brilliant powder blue. Not a cloud was in sight. He strutted about, happy to be where he was. A wide river flowed silently not far from the farm. Bulaq shivered when he thought about its seemingly gentle waters. He knew better than to be fooled. There were crocodiles living in that river. Too many of the hens and other roosters had ended up as a meal for a hungry crocodile. Bulaq wanted to make sure he never would be.
Trying to distract himself from those frightening thoughts, he glanced over towards the sprawling city of Cairo. He could see the brightly painted, blue and green minarets standing erect; stone towers attached to a mosque or citadel. Soon the morning call to prayer would ring out from them. He saw other tall buildings that he knew were now filling with crowds of people. He heard noises coming from the cars carrying early morning commuters as they made their way to work. Smells of oil and gas, mixed with scents of food cooking, drifted through the air towards him.
Turning again, he saw the Great Pyramids standing majestically, shadowing the Sphinx. Bulaq thought about how hed like to fly up to the top of one of the pyramids and do his early morning crows. He wondered if anyone would hear him if he did. Would he even be able to fly up that high? He was just a rooster, not an eagle.
He was distracted from his thoughts by the sound of one of the hens clucking wildly. He turned and ran towards the noise, moving quickly through the bushes. He jumped over the pebbles and hot sand. He ran around a clump of date palms and stopped. There sat Roda, the hen, with her back against a huge boulder. A massive crocodile was standing in front of her, its gaping jaws filled with sharp teeth and it looked hungry. Bulaq gasped a deep breath. What was he to do? How could he help Roda?
Roda clucked and clucked. She was terrified. Bulaq could see her shaking and shivering with fear. Her feathers were moving up and down and back and forth as her body shook giving them the appearance of blowing snow in a wintry blizzard.
Bulaq looked around, trying to see if there was something he could do to help his friend. He came up with an idea. He flapped his wings and flew up to the top of the boulder that Roda was leaning against. He lay down and dangled his front wings over the edge, struggling to reach her. He could see the crocodiles eyes, deep and dark, glaring at him. Roda stopped clucking and raised her wings up high above her head. Just then, seeing what was about to happen, the crocodile lurched towards her. Using all his might, Bulaq grabbed Rodas wings and pulled her up until she was on top of the boulder with him and out of harms way.
The two chickens stared down at the angry crocodile. It sat at the bottom of the boulder hissing for several minutes before accepting defeat and wandering back down to the river. They didnt get down until they watched it slink into the deep water and swim away. Its tail swished back and forth and it disappeared.
Bulaq accompanied Roda back to the chicken coop. He warned her not to ever go near the river again. She clucked a thank you and went inside with the other hens. Bulaq flew up to the top of a tall wooden pole and stood there, proudly keeping watch over the chickens.
His eyes kept going to the three pyramids. He wanted to welcome the new day sun from the top of the largest. He flew down to the ground and strutted over towards them. When he reached the bottom, he looked up. He didnt realize how big they were. He flew up onto the first layer of blocks of stones, then flew to the next, stopping at the top of each to rest. Now and then hed turn around and look down. He was high up yet the top still seemed so far away. All day long he flew from layer to layer. As the sun set and the sky went ablaze with crimson red, pink, orange, purple and blue, he reached the top of the pyramid.
He stood there, unable to move. He was mesmerized by the beauty of what lay in front of him. He could see for miles in every direction. Things looked different than they did when he was on top of the pole in the chicken coop. He saw the Nile River as it flowed north towards the sea. The suns setting rays reflected off the river like a giant mirror. It was beautiful. He could also see the crocodiles swimming around in it. He even saw the crocodiles laying in the reeds that lined the muddy banks of the river.
The desert sand, instead of being beige, was now a brilliant coral color. The Sphinx was a black silhouette against the deep purple sky, looking even more majestic Than it did in the bright sunlight.
Soon darkness filled the heavens. Bulaq saw the stars twinkling and the huge moon shimmering. Somehow he felt closer to it being that high up. After watching the marvels surrounding the pyramid for several hours, he began to get tired and closed his eyes.
As if on queue, he woke up just as the first ray of sun came over the horizon. He filled his lungs up with fresh desert air and began to crow. His cock-a-doodle-doo echoed off every tree, off every building and off every sand dune. The chickens woke up and came out of the coop to start their days clucking. Bulaq proudly crowed, "Cock-a-doodle-doo! Cock-a-doodle-doo!"
He knew that from then on, at least one day a week, he was going to climb up to the top of the pyramid and look down on the desert below. At least hed get to keep track of the crocodiles!