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Fatima and her chickens surrounded by shopping trolleys carrying blankets and food. Fermín Rodríguez
Jobless Fátima cares for her pet chickens on a small traffic island in Granada while waiting for a lucky break
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Jobless Fátima cares for her pet chickens on a small traffic island in Granada while waiting for a lucky break

The woman, who sleeps in a storage room at night, spends her days in the Zaidín district to the south of the city with Piti and Sisi, who she has had for seven years since she lost her last job in a café

Tuesday, 26 March 2024, 15:26

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A woman sits on some fruit crates with her legs crossed, surrounded by pine trees that filter the sun's rays. The traffic island, a triangle formed between Calles Bruselas, Agustín Lara and Camino de las Peñuelas looks like a boat in the middle of the Zaidín, a district located in the south of Granada city. She is concentrating on what she's writing on a small pad of paper while singing a tune that sounds like the soundtrack to an old film: "Mmmm, mmm, mmmm".

Suddenly, she lifts her head and smiles, "Piiiiiiiti-piti-piti-piti-piti-piti," she says, patting her hands. "Siiiisi-sisi-sisi-sisi-sisi-sisi," she adds. At that point a huge coloured cockerel and a black hen emerge from behind a bush and approach the woman as if to say "What do you want? What's up?" "My chickens, Piti and Sisi. They are very good. Look at them, all they need to do is talk," the woman says.

The woman is Fátima and she is waiting for a lucky break. "It always comes. It will come". For months now, every morning she has woken up in a storage room on Avenida de Constitución before taking herself and her trolleys to the Zaidín traffic island, where she spends the day with Piti and Sisi.

"I bring them in a cardboard box, but when we settle down I let them out without any problem. They are very obedient and they always listen to me." The local residents know Fátima already and know that her pet chickens are obedient. However, passersby stop when they see her and her chicks, as she calls them. "Instead of saying hello, they take photos and videos of me with their mobile phones. I don't like that," Fátima admits.

Fátima is wearing a blue tracksuit and hiking boots. Her short hair is covered by a woollen cap that makes her eyes look small. Sisi, the hen, is so black that she looks like a shadow. Piti, the rooster stands tall and proud, with orange, red and cobalt feathers. "Mmmm, mmm, mmmm," the woman keeps crooning.

- And they don't run into the road?

-Aha! That's the million-dollar question, the one I get asked most often. No, they don't leave me. They are used to being with me and nothing happens. If I see a dog or a cat approaching, I call them and that's it.

- And where do Piti and Sisi come from?

-Don't you know? It's very easy: the hen lays an egg and it hatches... (laughs loudly). If you ask silly questions, I'll answer! No, it's just that in my house we've had roosters and hens all our lives. My parents had them. And they're not very old, six or seven years old, I'd say.

F. R.

Fatima has been waiting six or seven years for a lucky break. Specifically, since her chicks were born and she lost her last job. While Piti and Sisi have a snack, Fátima looks back and tells her own story. "I was born in Morocco and came here to study business. I finished a long, long time ago. I've worked in very good places, half of them, I reckon, with a contract, the other half without a contract. I paid as much as I could. Things went wrong shortly before the pandemic, well... - she tries to put dates and years in order - more like 2008, with the crisis. Yes, that's when it happened.

She says she worked as a clerk in a transport agency that had to close down. "Everyone on the street. People with families and children. Not me, I was single and I still am". Then, she says, she was a shop assistant at the old Cines Neptuno, until it changed owners. "And they hired me at Multicines Centro, the ones in Plaza de Gracia... until that closed down. Mamma mia mia!" she exclaims.

Fatima went from one job to another until she got a job in a café in Albolote, where she was "very happy until one morning, at the Maracena crossroads, a young man came along with a powerful Seat Ibiza and bang, he smashed up my car. My car was old and it went to the scrapyard. I had to quit my job because I couldn't get around properly.

Do you sleep here?

-No! I don't live on the street. I can't afford a flat, but I'm in a storage room where I keep my stuff... provisionally, to see if a lucky break comes. It always comes... Maybe they'll let me have a little house in a village. As soon as they call me, we'll go.

Behind them, on the pavement of Calle Bruselas, a couple whisper when they see Piti and Sisi. Then they take out their mobile phones and start to video. "Josefa who lives nearby has chickens in her house and comes here every day to chat. And the people across the street always say hello and bring something to share. And the other day, when it was raining so much, they came with an umbrella and told me to take cover, you're going to get sick."

Alone again, Fatima strolls along the traffic island and Piti and Sisi follow her, like two trained puppies. "You're going to be in the newspaper," she explains. They're going to learn about you and know how good you are. They won't have to take pictures of you any more". Then she sits down on her fruit box, crosses her legs and goes back to writing in her notebook. "Mmmm, mmm, mmmm...".

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