Ever been kicked by a donkey? No? Yes? It doesn’t hurt much, does it? Well, i got kicked once right in the centre of my leg. That was 20 years ago and i still have a mark which is a stark reminder of the pain i felt and tears i fought back. And also the ‘loss’ i felt when my cousin told me that the donkey died recently of old age!
Once upon a time when i was around ten, grandpa sold a piece of land and among the things he bought us was a donkey!
We may have wanted a pickup truck so we could ride it around the village seated on the front waving to our less fortunate friends. We would have convinced him to take us to Sunday school inasmuch as he detested church, honking rhythmically when we got to the gate to ensure every other kid noticed we had a pick up.
That time, very few people in our village owned cars!
But grandpa, a WW2 veteran decided that a donkey was a good enough investment. He had probably ridden an Army pick up in Madras and did not want to recall the war. A donkey reminded him of nothing!
So this is how I got the kick…
Having done lots of gigs with our donkey, I inevitably became an expert on the issue, donkey issues, that is. I could easily tell when the beast was unwell, or overly tired. I also got to learn that a donkey develops some kind of flu if it eats maize cobs, like it coughs and wheezes all day which is not a pretty sight.
Another thing I got to learn through the hard way is that donkeys hate pipes! I don’t know, I guess in their minds the pipes are misconstrued as snakes. Now, when I got to learn that and I needed the donkey to go faster I would point one end of the pipe between its hind legs and blow. The area being very sensitive would force it to run and kick wildly….it’s is not as crude as it seems, no.
This would spur it to break into an enviable sprint, and as a village boy considering PlayStation was unheard of in our days, it was an overly thrilling experience.
So we get to the communal water place miles away from home. Every donkey cart is supposed to be parked in reverse for more convenience in filling the gallon. In my case I had a hard time teaching my new donkey these tricks, it would back up too fast and run over the smaller gallons the women and kids had arranged in a line.
In turn the village womenfolk would hurl reprehensible insults at us, my donkey and i….
“Musenji oyo (stupid!)”
“Brarry fakini (i will leave you to translate this by yourself)!”
Being the timid boy I was I did not say anything in return, Waithera my mother had taught me better about empty whatevers making the most noise.
I massaged my donkeys jaw and whispered into its huge ears that all would be well, you know like ‘all is well, all is well….’
Then it happened…..
In my anger and bid to fill my tank up and get out of there, I pulled a pipe while I was straddled on the two poles and forgot about the donkey’s fear of pipes.
It happened so fast and in the blink of an eye I was flat on my back in a puddle of muddy water….
The kick caught me right at the centre of my leg. I slipped on the pole and fell down as the donkey pulled away almost running me over.
I heard a woman scream, another laugh and a kid giggle.
Tears stung my eyes and my leg hurt like hell. I almost thought it was broken.
But again, it was just the leg and not other areas above the knees….a kick higher up would have been a case of forced vasectomy! It would have rendered me useless, my genes would never be imprinted on the next generation who would carry my torch when I was no more….
In such cases, since you cannot let the world see your tears, you think of something else to keep your mind off the pain and embarrassment; something like eating boiled pumpkin and milk or the sausages Aunt Lucy would bring when she visited home at the end of the week.
I tried hard not to limp. Actually, I did not even bother walking, I just perched myself on top of the blue gallon now filled with water, and whispered to the donkey, “Leo unanibeba mpaka home fala hii, sishuki ata kwa mlima!” (Today you will carry me till home you stupid donkey, I won’t alight even in hilly places); and there are lots of hills on the way home!
But along the way sense prevailed and out of mercy I alighted and pushed the cart in every hill. A donkey heaving under such weight is a pitiful sight.
So I have a mark that I will proudly show to my kids and tell them of my boyhood days spent helping my grandparents and adventures with a fast donkey which was the envy of the entire village……