The Donkey's Death Call


For the first time, I heard a donkey cry. This evening, I heard a donkey cry amidst the constant chuckle of car engines in the streets of Addis Ababa. Suddenly, I felt the urge to write about it, not because it was one of my firsts but because it was one of the most honest, emotional, spine-tingling sound I’ve ever listened to in my whole life. It was like the combined sound of a woman mourning over her husband’s sudden death, and a child longing for a mother who just passed away, and a young man whose lover has been snatched away by death, never to return.

Death. That was the message the donkey was trying to convey in a series of guttural moans that seemed to come out after having been kept bottled inside for a long time. I looked around and all I could see was death.

To the beggars and street dwellers, it could be death of their hopes for a warm meal and a dry bed. To the old father standing by the corner store waiting for his young daughter to come home after enjoying the company of a lover, it could be the death of his aspirations for a better life. To the young woman sitting in a taxi who just learned she’d contracted the deadly virus, it could be the death of her ambitions. To the taxi driver who just hit the donkey in the middle of the road, it could be the death of his earnings for the day.

The donkey’s cry seemed to tell us that every one of us suffers death every day, in one way or another. I refuse to think about mine, and try to replace these morbid thoughts of goats bleating, cows mooing, dogs barking, and birds chirping in the morning.

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