Joha and His Donkey

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Joha and His Donkey

An Arabic Story by Anon

One day, Joha was riding upon his donkey on the way to market. Joha’s son walked beside the donkey, holding the reins and talking with his father.

When the father and son passed a small group of people gathered by the side of the track, the people criticised Joha. They said to the old man, ‘How can you be so heartless, Joha?  How can you ride upon the donkey while your son is forced to walk beside you?’

When Joha heard these words he climbed down and lifted his son up onto the donkey’s back in his place.

Joha and his son continued on their journey, Joha walking beside the donkey, holding the reins in his hands as they made their way towards the market.

A mile down the road, Joha passed a small group of women gathered around a well.  When the women saw Joha they were very shocked. They asked of him, ‘How is it that an old man walks while his young son rides upon the donkey? Surely this is not right!’

So Joha climbed upon the donkey’s back with his son and they continued on their journey.

It was getting into the late afternoon, the sun was shining high up in the sky and it was very hot, but still Joha and his son continued on their journey towards the market. The donkey was moving very slowly because of the weight of the father and the son upon its back, but nobody criticized until they came across a small group of people gathered on the edge of the town where the market was held. The people pointed with disapproval when they saw Joha and his son both sitting on the back of the little donkey which was moving so slowly under the weight of the father and the son. ‘Why do you ride upon such a small donkey?’ they cried out to Joha. ‘Can you not see that you are too heavy and your donkey cannot support your weight?’

‘I think it is best if we both get off of the donkey and walk,’ Joha said to his son. ‘That way nobody can say anything to us anymore.’

So Joha and his son climbed down from the donkey. Joha took the reins in order to lead the donkey and walked with his son towards the marketplace in the centre of the village.

But when Joha arrived at the marketplace, many people laughed and criticized and made fun of the old man.  ‘What a fool!’ they declared. ‘What kind of a man owns a donkey and yet walks with his son when he should be riding?’

Joha was not angry at the people because he realised that it is not possible to please everyone all the time, and perhaps it was best if each man decide how to live his own life.