A muleteer was travelling to another land with his merchandise. He wanted to sell them and make money and then bring back more raw materials. He loaded the bags of goods, food and water for the journey and some firewood on the backs of two animals he owned; a mule and a donkey, and set forth on his journey.
The two animals carried the load equally and trod on. They were glad of each other’s company especially in the nights when they were tired and cold. They pressed against each other for warmth and fell into a deep sleep, to awake fresh and fit for the next day’s journey.
After a few days of crossing plain terrains, they came across a mountain. The muleteer made the animals climb the mountain as he clearly wanted to cross it to reach his destination.
Now the donkey was able to carry loads easily on plain terrain but found it quite difficult to climb a mountain. As the ascent turned steep, he could barely move. The load on his back began to feel heavier and heavier.
He turned to the mule with a request, ‘My friend, please relieve me of a small portion of my burden. I am unable to climb up with such a heavy load. I might not be able to make it to the top.’
The mule was also feeling tired but he knew it was getting next to impossible for the donkey to climb up. Still he thought, ‘Why should I burden myself more? I am already carrying half the load. The donkey has to manage his share.’ And so he paid no heed to the donkey’s entreaties.
After some time, unable to handle the weight and the steepness, the donkey fell down and died. The muleteer felt upset but he was also practical. He skinned the donkey’s hide and placed the hide along with the donkey’s load on the mule’s back.
Now the mule groaned under the extra weight. He thought, ‘How foolish I have been. Now I have been not only over burdened with this weight, but I also lost the companionship of my dear friend.’
To reflect upon
The burden of losing a friend outweighs the burden of extra work.