It is about a donkey who decides to reinvent himself. Just when his master writes him off as too old and good-for-nothing, the donkey plans a career change,” I tell the Lilliputians who ask me what I find so interesting about a particular Grimm’s fairly tale.
The expressions on their faces tell me I haven’t been able to convincingly convey my immense admiration for the story.
I try again. “It is about a donkey with high self esteem and the courage of his convictions. It is about friendship. It is about how our own fears can transform shadows into hideous goblins, so a cat becomes a witch, a dog becomes a man with a knife, a donkey becomes a black monster, a good old rooster becomes a devil whose simple crowing is heard as ‘throw the rascal up there’ and so on.”
Very intelligent listeners that they are, they manage to cull out a few useful words from my largely unintelligible account of ‘The Travelling Musicians.’
“So it’s about a donkey, a cat, a dog, and a rooster. And they are friends?” one of them asks, editing my garbled details to a succinct, one-lined statement.
“What happens in the story?” another now asks a precise question to help me focus on the essentials.
“Once upon a time, there was a donkey who faithfully served his master for many years. When the donkey became old and unfit for work, the master decided to get rid of him. The donkey got a whiff of his master’s plan, but he wasn’t the type to sulk over the situation or make revenge plans. He made up his mind to give himself a makeover by going to city and becoming a musician.”
“Musician!” they laugh.
“Yes, he believed in himself. He thought he had a wonderful voice. On his way to the city, he met other friendless and lonely animals. The donkey told them about his decision to explore new ways of living and offered them to join him to form a music group-after all, they all had interesting voices- and hold concerts in the city. The donkey’s enthusiasm rubbed off on the animals, they found the idea of music group and concert interesting, and jogged along the donkey.”
“Music group of animals!” now the Lilliputians understand why I gush over the story.
We read the entire story together; we all are charmed by the narrative. And there isn’t just one reason to like it.