Lina & the Donkeys

Lina grew up in a family where everyone worked with their hands. They had a small farm with vegetables, fruit and potatoes. The mother laid, cooked and sold these things at the market. The father was a carpenter and turner. There was always something to fix. No, you didn’t get rich from it, but it was enough to lead a modest life. There were no animals on the small farm, except for a donkey that Lina’s mother used to bring home-made groceries to the market. Now she was allowed to eat her bread of grace. She shouldn’t be alone, little Tapsi. So one day Lina brought her to the neighbor’s donkey so that she became pregnant and a few months later gave birth to a little girl. Lina called her Stupsi. From the start Stupsi was weird, frightened, withdrawn and fearful. Just like Lina, who had started to speak as a child but had soon given up again. Since then she was mute and withdrawn.

The father said the donkeys had to go. There was no longer any reason to keep them. „You’re not allowed to do that,“ said Lina, who for the first time in many years pulled herself together to say something. „How do you imagine that?“ asked the father, who found neither her non-speaking nor her sudden offer of communication remarkable, „The straw is becoming more and more expensive and we have no use from them.“ „I will get the money“ , said Lina, „I’m moving into the stable with them.“ In fact, Lina moved into the small adjoining room next to the stable. There was a connecting door with a hatch that allowed both the donkeys and her to see the other side. Lina had thought it all through carefully. Just because she didn’t speak didn’t mean she wasn’t thinking. Many like to put that in one. She used the dexterity of her hands and what she had learned from her father to create small wooden figures. „So you want me to sell these at the market?“ her mother asked when Lina brought them to her. She just nodded. The mother examined the pieces carefully. They were animal figures, primarily, unsurprisingly, donkeys, of the kind that were a dime a dozen. But they had something special, their own charisma, a mixture of melancholy and harmony, sadness and joy all in one. Which was probably due to the fact that they were never individual animals, but one large and one small or several. Like the hen with the chicks under her wings. And of course Tapsi with Stupsi. The mother was touched by the zeal that her Lina, about whom she worried so much, put into saving the donkeys. Because it was clear where they would end up if Lina wasn’t able to make a living. It didn’t have to be said. „Fine, I’ll do it,“ the mother agreed, „But only on one condition. You come with me, because since I can no longer use Tapsi, but can use a handcart instead, transport has become very difficult for me. You help me to pull the handcart.” Lina smiled tentatively, which pleased her mother and took her as approval. To the next market day, which was held every week in the nearby town, Lina pulled her mother’s handcart. All day long she stood behind her little table and offered her goods for sale. The interest was great and so was the sale. When they returned to their cottage that evening, the handcart was empty. „I think you don’t have to worry about Tapsi and Stupsi anymore.“

Lina sat in the stable that evening and was just happy. Stupsi lay down next to her and laid his head in her lap. Lina was the only one the little donkey wasn’t afraid of. Probably because she felt a connection between two beings who couldn’t cope with the noisy, shrill, hectic world. Lina didn’t have to say anything, not a single word, to be understood. It was easy, as easy as life can be, if you let it.

This is how life took its course, also in the small house on the outskirts of the village. Lina is said to have never spoken again, but she no longer had a reason. She was content with her room next to the stable, her work and her daily walks with the donkeys. It was good and there was no reason to want more.

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