Animal Folk Stories: The Donkey

Again, I wanted to add folk tales from cultures that had not been represented yet in this growing collection. Thus, I searched on YouTube for Indian folktales and found another short children’s cartoon from Geethanjali Kids as part of their Rhymes and Stories series. They aim to help keep Indian culture alive by presenting various folk tales to children in an entertaining manner. The folk tale I found for this collection is called “Mind Your Business.”

The “Mind Your Business” story features a washer man who had a pet donkey and dog. Each had a job for the man, as the dog was a guard and the donkey carried his “stack of clothes to the river and brought it back.” The two animals slept outside but had different views of their relationship with the man. The dog “was proud of his duties and boasted a lot.” One night, he teased the donkey about how he does not have to work as hard as the donkey. The dog calls him a “beast of burden,” insulting the donkey who did not respond. A few nights later, a thief robbed the man’s house. The dog saw the thief but did not bark, which was a violation of his own duty. Instead, the donkey saw the thief and questioned the dog’s inaction. The dog said, “mind your own business, don’t talk to me about my duties.” The dog explains how he is upset with his master because he feels he is not treated well enough. So, he lets the thief in, and the donkey protests, saying “you fool, this is not a time to complain, this is a time for action!” So, the donkey made the noise and chased the thief away. The man thought the donkey was making noise for no reason and he beat the donkey. The tale ends with “it is always better to mind your own business.”

The story also begins with “once upon a time,” which may be a strategy to connect the folk tale with an English-speaking audience. As stated in the last entry, most folk tales begin with some version of this, even though some of them come from very different cultures. I am assuming that in the English translation of the tales, narrators choose to use some version of this opening because it reinforces to the viewer that this is a folk tale. It helps with the introduction and setting certain expectations within the reader, as there will be a situation, resolution, and clear moral lesson within that resolution. However, the lesson comes in a much darker format compared to other animal fables, as there is no consequence for the man beating the donkey. I was expecting the donkey to be rewarded for his service, but the tale took a very unexpected end with the presence of animal abuse.

Source: Geethanjali Kids. “Mind Your Business.”