The depressed donkey
Life, don’t talk to me about life. Just when you think it can’t get any worse – it does. And it doesn’t stop there. It goes on getting worse. In my experience, anyway. Take this last couple of days for example. It was bad enough in Nazareth.
That’s where I’m from, by the way. Rotten place – no life in it all. Not so much a one horse town as a two donkey town – and both of us depressed. Gloomy and dull, that’s the best you can say about it. Not exactly on the tourist track of course.
Nothing of any importance there of course. Why should people come and look at us. Not as if there’s anything special to see. Just ordinary people doing ordinary dull jobs – and a very bored donkey, doing a very dull job. Not wildly exciting being a donkey in the hill country. No where to go except up and down – or sometimes down and up if you fancy a change. But that’s the way it is.
Can’t change it – must just endure it. Not getting you down, am I? Oh good!
I was going to tell you why I was depressed, wasn’t I. As if living in Nazareth wasn’t enough? Normally it is, but just to make sure, I had to live through the last two days. It started with a notice from the Emperor. Always bad news, in my experience, when something comes from the government. Usually means life’s going to get tougher.
This one came – must have been a week ago. Just like that, no warning, no gentle breaking of the news. Just – go to the family home and get registered. OK for donkeys, you might think. Doesn’t apply to them. Well, that’s as maybe, but we still get involved.
Nobody asks our opinion. Nobody offers us an incentive. All I got was the master coming into my stable – not much to write home about in itself, if I could write, which I can’t but you never know – anyway, in he came and announced, calm as you like, that I was going on a trip to Bethlehem. And you can be sure it wasn’t for the good of MY health. No. For hers, more like.
Nine months gone, she is, and off to Bethlehem because the government says so. Typical of course. No thought of checking if their census – whatever that is – is at a convenient time for folk. Oh no – just off you go and get registered. And if she’s to get there, who’s to take her. Who do you think. And me with a bad back too. Hardly fit to carry myself let alone a pregnant woman. An unmarried pregnant woman too. I’m not one to gossip, but – well….
Anyway, I like her, and I did want to make the journey as smooth as I could, but it’s not easy. Actually, that’s an understatement. It was blooming difficult. The government may be requiring the census, but they aren’t doing much for the roads. I suppose, to be fair, we weren’t mugged or pushed off the hillside.
We didn’t even fall into any potholes. But smooth – no! And slow! I guess it would be fair to say I’m not the fastest beast on four legs, but the roads were so busy. I couldn’t have gone any faster than a moderate walking pace even if I had wanted to. Which I didn’t, but it’s nice to have the option.
So we plodded on – and on – and on – and on. She walked a bit of the way, but it was clear she couldn’t go far, so I carried her most of the time. Her and the packs. Actually, he carried the packs quite a lot, but I still had to carry them some of the time. What with the crowds and her condition, and the packs – well, we didn’t get as far as we would have wanted last night, so we stopped over night at one of his cousins’ places.
It was OK, I suppose. They weren’t a very friendly lot, though. I tried talking to some of them, but they didn’t seem to want to. Some folk are just plain unfriendly I suppose. All I tried to do was tell them about Nazareth and about the journey, but they kept on about some party that they’d been to, and the interesting people they’d seen. And one of them seemed to want to make people smile. Daft idea, if you ask me. I’m not depressing you, am I? O good.
Anyway, we set off again this morning, and the crowds were just as bad, and she wasn’t too good. Near her time, I shouldn’t wonder. Makes sense, doesn’t it. Live all your life in a little town where you know everybody, everything’s to hand and you’ve got your own home, and of course you’re in a strange town without family or a roof over your head when your first child is about to be born. That’s life, isn’t it!
He’s done the best he could though.
We got here late afternoon, and he hunted everywhere for somewhere to stay. Too late most places of course. Well, what else would you expect. Thinking ahead seems beyond them, If they’d consulted me – which they wouldn’t and why should they, but you never know – I could have told them. There’s never enough beds, and you’ve just got to make your mind up to it.
Mind you, he did find us somewhere. I suppose. A stable it is. Bit crowded too – all these extra beasts come in like us for the census. I suppose it keeps it cosy – but it’s a bit smelly too. And I really don’t like the look of her. That baby’s on the way alright. Well, I suppose getting born here is a good introduction to the rest of what the world is.
Give them the facts right away, I always say. No good hiding things. Might as well see life for what it is. Life! Don’t talk to me about life.
Oh – there’s the cry – I knew the baby was coming. Poor thing.