You can’t care about animal rights on an empty stomach

Published: February 25, 2014

The harsh reality was that human rights overlapped animal rights in his small world. PHOTO: AFP

Rehmu was on his last tour of the day, carrying bricks from one point to another on his donkey cart. He needed to do at least five such tours a day in order to earn enough for a sufficient meal for him and his family. But today he could only do four and he knew that it would not be enough for his family. He was thinking that either he or his wife would have to pretend not to be hungry that night.

He had known since that morning that he would not have enough work today. His mind had been preoccupied with worries and when the body thinks through the stomach, it creates problems for individuals and hence, societies. But Rehmu was too old and too weak to create problems for the society.

His problem was the fire in the stomach; not the fire in the heart.

Suddenly, he was jolted out of his reverie back to reality. He was lying on the road and the cart had fallen since his donkey had fainted. Oblivious to his own injuries, he rushed towards the cart. Bystanders decided to help him unload the bricks from the cart. Thankfully, the donkey was alive but he had lost consciousness and received a few injuries from the fall.

People around him, the witty analysts they thought themselves to be, laughed and passed remarks at him. An ill-humoured man said,

“O baba ji! Your cart got some dents.”

Another one tried to give him some rational advice,

Baba ji! Don’t overload your cart.”

An apparently religious fellow passing by said,

“You will answer on the Day of Judgment for the way you treat your animals.”

But Rehmu was already worried about his donkey. The donkey might have been the world’s stupidest creature but for Rehmu he was a true companion. He was feeling really sad and heartbroken but he had no other options. He realised that people around him didn’t know about his difficult life and lack of options.

People who think with their brain have a lot of things to worry about – new restaurants, new cars, new movies, new serials, new clothing. But people who are forced to think with their stomachs don’t have many options.

Their world starts and ends with fulfilling the needs of the stomach.

They don’t have to worry about where they sleep and they don’t care about animal rights but do they care for their own rights?

Do they even have rights, these poor donkeys and people like Rehmu?

Are they both equal in the so-called status quo of this world?

What would hell be like for them if this temporary world is so difficult for them?

He helped his donkey to the side and put all the bricks by the side of the road.

What were his options now? He had no other cart to transfer the bricks to the construction point. He didn’t have the modern ‘necessity’ of a cell phone to call for help. And even if he had one, who would he call?

His only option was to feed the donkey, re-load the cart and move on. But did he have the money to feed his donkey?

And more importantly, if he fed his donkey, how would he feed his family?

The harsh reality was that human rights overlapped with animal rights in this cruel world.

He knew people were cursing him as he overloaded the donkey cart yet again but no one helped him or his beloved donkey.

No one really cared about Rehmu’s life.

No one cared that he had to worry about his wife and children before he could think about his donkey.

Aziz Hamza

Aziz Hamza

A Masters in Entrepreneurship and Internationalization from Sweden, a business case writer and researcher at UMT, he tweets as @azi_hamza (

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Sadia
  • Asim

    Very RealisticRecommend

  • Kaptain Mirza

    The vicious socio-economic circle that is run by the undeserving and un-intellectual yet street smart thugs.
    Who cares, this is just another story that’ll see the dust of the day and remains here to fill the empty editorial spaces of the paper.Recommend

  • Huda

    But if he overworks and injures the donkey, he will be left with nothing. It’s not only a matter of being kind. This is an animal that is enabling him to earn a living. If he does not take care of it, he will lose it, and he will lose his source of income.Recommend

  • Shehryar

    really sad but harsh reality of life.Recommend

  • abhi

    Can he sell his donkey and start a new business with the money he got?Recommend

  • Hobbit Hole Farm

    that is so the truth and people here in the USA do not realize that! When the well off well fed well housed people here start complaining about how some who is less well off, well fed, and well housed treats their animals they have no clue as to how life really is. The only reason we have the question of animal rights here in the US is the fact the majority of us do not have to worry about were our next meal or our place to lay our head is coming from. IF that was taken away how many of the AR nuts would REALLY care if Fido had a warm bed or a meal or was chained up? NOT MANYRecommend

  • FR

    what about grass?Recommend

  • Parvez

    Story nicely told …… make a point worth thinking about.
    A nice saying goes : A righteous man has regard for the life of his beast…. Proverbs 12:10 . Now if one thinks about it, a righteous man need not be rich or poor, hungry or full.Recommend

  • Shah (Berlin)

    and the person who will buy the donkey will use the donkey for……..?????Recommend

  • abhi

    I think we can leave it to that person who buys it. He may want to keep a pet donkey who knows.Recommend

  • Faraz Talat

    In an odd piece of apologia for animal cruelty, the author misses out on two key points:

    1) Difficult circumstances are not a get-out-of-scorn-free card for animal abusers. Even in the unlikely scenario that a terribly, terribly poor man’s oversized family and his donkey are competing for the same bundle of grass to eat, he still cannot get away with cruelty.

    Otherwise, you may as well use the “bhook tehzeeb ke adaab bhula deti hai” argument to justify virtually any moral failing of the poor from plunder to murder.

    2) An unfed donkey is a weak donkey. A weak donkey is an ineffective one, which means the man’s income would suffer. If you have to choose between fueling your taxi and feeding your kids, it’s safe to say you’re doomed either way.Recommend

  • Supriya Arcot

    Well … wish I could write some clever / witty or even helpful comment here on this situation. Alas. I can’t think of any!!Recommend

  • MIQ

    why dont you buy that donkey to keep it as a pet? come on boy dont u realize how rubbish is ur comment??? :)Recommend

  • abhi

    really, and what about the whole story?Recommend