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Tuesday September 10, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Tuesday September 10, 2013 MYT 7:46:49 AM
by oh teik theam
This was one option that was not considered in Aesop’s famous fable on how to travel with a donkey! This picture was taken by the late Rapaee Kawi (fondly known as Apai), former senior photographer of The Star, on assignment in Afghanistan.
A MAN and his son were driving their donkey to a market to sell the animal. They had not travelled far when they saw a group of housewives talking under a tree, one of whom said to her friends, “Why do that man and his son walk when they could ride the donkey?”
Under fire for what he perceived was his stupidity, the man told his son to mount the donkey.
Presently, they came near some woodcutters who were resting by the roadside, one of whom said to the others, “That boy should be ashamed of himself, letting his old man walk while he rides the donkey. If he had a modicum of respect for his father, he wouldn’t do such a thing!”
Hearing this, the boy dismounted from the donkey to let his father ride the animal and rest his tired legs.
They had not proceeded far when they saw some durian sellers, who cried as one man, “You are cold-hearted to ride the donkey and let the poor boy lag behind you!”
The man immediately had his son ride the donkey with him.
A short while later, an oil palm harvester took them to task, crying, “The donkey should not carry such a heavy load. It looks like death warmed up. If it collapses and dies, you’ll have blood on your hands. I think it’s better if you two fellows carry the donkey than it carry you. Gee, it is all skin and bones!”
Throwing away his almost spent cheroot, the man said to his son, “He is right. We’ll tie the donkey’s legs to my pole and raise the pole and the donkey to our shoulders.”
Nodding, the boy said, “Okay, Pa.”
The donkey cried, “Hee-haw!”
The strange sight of two fellows carrying a donkey made the onlookers laugh loudly. An old woman snorted, “They are crazy!”
The tumult caused the donkey to struggle violently. The frightened animal broke loose from the pole and bolted towards the forest.
The moral: When you try to please everyone, you please no one.
(Adapted from a fable by Aesop)
Under fire: (i) Being criticized. (ii) Being attacked. (The soldiers were under fire for three days.)
Someone’s old man: Someone’s father or husband.
As one man / As one woman / As one: Everyone together; unanimously.
Take someone to task: Rebuke someone for a fault or failure.
Like death warmed up: Very tired or ill.
Have blood on one’s hands: Responsible for someone’s death.
(All) skin and bone(s): Extremely thin.
Throw away: (i) Discard (ii) Waste or fail to use. (She’s thrown away her chances for a teaching job.)
The writer’s latest book, Idiomania, is out now.
Tags / Keywords:
Education, Mind Our English
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