The Donkey’s Mother

hombre en el Cairo con sacos de arena de fondo

Like any other employee at the buffet, I obey the orders of my plump boss, whose rotundity I am sure more than one or two people must have mistakenly ascribed at some point or another to some fatal disease. He shadows me relentlessly, watching my every move. He is probably more thorough at said task than an actual shadow would be, for even shadows, I am sure, must get tired of being gummmed to a person’s ass and wind up cutting their enslaved owners some slack. As soon as the diners lay down their cutlery, I clear all the empty plates from the tables in the hall and head toward the rudimentarily furnished kitchen, which nobody has bothered to equip with the implements needed to get the dishes properly scraped clean.

“Screw them!” I think to myself and then carry on heaping “praise” of that ilk on them, while fetching dish after dish with my work-roughened hands. For the life of me, I can’t say why I keep putting up with all this crap. My boss doesn’t miss any opportunity to vent his frustrations on me, and he typically finds one when he sees me sneaking into the big kitchen that lies further away from the dining area. Given that he is constantly hot on my heels, this happens with a high degree of regularity. As stated previously, screw them all!

Considering we work in a restaurant, it is a crying shame that we, the employees, are served junk food for lunch. It is a cheeseparing way of supplying us with the necessary energy to keep us going until kingdom come while greasing the palm of our pleasure centers in order to butter up the rest of our brains—lest they unwittingly prompt us to complain for the entirety of the crazy amount of hours we slog through nonstop.

The restaurant has become famous thanks to a huge advertising campaign that has planted advertising signs with the restaurant’s logo —a donkey— blazoned across them in all of Cairo’s major squares. “The Donkey’s Mother,” which is what we call the restaurant’s owner, shows up at the restaurant every two weeks to handle business affairs. She is the only one who treats me with kindness. She gives me presents to enjoy on my own and with the whole family. My wife and children have begun to follow her in order to entreat more delectable provender: a bowl of shin of beef stew, lamb’s head stew, or oxtail stew; some sausages; fried liver . . .

Thankfully, every time I see my family nosh to their heart’s content, I feel as if the insults that have been hurled at me and the intense humiliation that I have had to endure can’t hurt me any longer. Screw my boss! I sincerely doubt he has any sense of basic humanity. It’s likely that the only other being he has ever felt for is the one that lies hidden beneath his sagging belly fat.

Screw all these repulsive creatures that wield the authority to allow cats inside the same kitchen where they forbid famished humans from mopping up leftovers. When a dog sneaks into the kitchen and takes a leak in a rice bowl, it is applauded for its panache to such an extent that it actually feels encouraged to go number two. It even gets allotted a portion of the delicious meal the paunchy boss has saved for himself.

I wish the Donkey’s Mother would have stayed with us. She would have been constantly showering us with gifts, and we would have easily become accustomed to being lapped in luxury. Her generosity knows no bounds. She used to give us more meat and broth than one could shake a stick at.

However, one day she stopped coming. Later we found out that she had been taken into custody because of the scandalous selfie she had taken with the head of a local donkey. Thereafter, online activists had circulated the photo on the Internet.


Written by Mohammed Reza Elngar.

Choose your own adventure

Dad is repulsive, but Mom . . . gosh, the things I would do to Mom.

a) Lord knows—and Freud hazards a guess.

b) Behaving like a human being is probably not on the menu.