29 Mar 2008

Memories of a stubborn donkey

When I was a little lad growing up in rural south Trinidad, my village had a host of rather unique characters. I didn't know it at the time of course; what was in the village and encountered daily was the norm. But growing up and stretching the frontiers of exploration, and meeting scads of other people, I now realise how unique these individuals were.

We had the village drunkard - okay, he was unique. There were LOTS of village drunkards back then. I remember a few with great delight; one whose drunkenness was fun since he began singing and dancing, making up songs extempo style. Another who drank so much his bones became brittle enough to shatter when he took a fall. No nutrition available in rum, eh?

We had the young men with their bell bottomed pants and pompadour hairstyles, dark shades and pin stripes. We had the badjohns and idiots...

But right next to my house, we had a man with a donkey. The donkey was actually named donkey though the Indian name - 'Gadahar'.

And Gadahar was as stubborn as his kind is reputed to be. He would be harnessed to a small cart, his master on the way to cut grass or some other chore, and right in front my house, he would stall - and refuse to move.

No amount of pulling, pushing, shoving, cajoling would work.

Eventually his master would reach into the cart and pull out his persuader. A piece of poui or other hard wood, thick as a child's wrist, and would proceed to belabour donkey.

First smack brought a look of surprise to the animal's face, and then a few quick shuffling steps. A few you ask? Yes, a few. Then donkey would settle firmly into place, and whilst master is striving with might and main to beat some compliance into him, donkey's eyes glazed over with contempt and stubbornness.

Eventually master would tire in the hot sun, sweating and swearing. My mother would pull us giggling children away from the language which was inventive and unique each time this happened.

Eventually the show ended with the cart turned around, more sticks to donkey's arse, and then off to home a few dozen feet away, where donkey calmly went back to eating, master eventually bringing a bundle of grass on his head.

Why did I remember this story? The headline this morning reminded me of the donkey. The same behaviour as Gadahar.