Back to memory lane. I once came across a one-para tidbit in a Tamil magazine about a lady helping injured donkeys in Britain. I wrote to the British embassy saying I would like to write a story about her. The response was prompt. I had Elizabeth Svendson’s address and details within a week. I wrote to her and her response was again brilliant.
She sent me her book titled “Down among the donkeys.”
Her arguments: The donkey is not a lazy beast of burden. It is a gentle, patient labourer, uncomplaining, working in slavish solitude and carries enormous loads from fields to his master’s house.
Cruelty inflicted on these innocent animals is beyond description. In a Spanish village, a bizarre event used to be organized. The oldest donkey in the village of Villanueva de la Vers would be martyred cruelly. The fattest man in the village would be put on the donkey’s back. The animal would be dragged through cobbled streets by a rope attached to a heavy noose around the neck.
What struck Svendson during her trips abroad was that there were apparently few donkeys over the age of 11. In Ethiopia, she came across donkeys waiting to carry owners and goods back to villages as distant as 15kms.
I do not know about Svendson now. But I never ever forget her contribution to these wonderful animals.
When someone calls me a donkey, I do not take any serious objection. Hey, does not mean you call me by that name.
BTW, you are aspiring to be a journalist? Beware. Two decades after this full-page report in a Mumbai tabloid, I have not been paid yet.