One fine sunny Sunday morning I was on my way to the French Beach in Karachi with a few friends when we spotted a very lame donkey. A young boy of about 12 years of age was making the poor animal gallop at full speed on the metaled road near Hawkesbay. One front leg of the donkey was so crooked that its knees would rub against each other with each step. We could see the blood flowing down its legs, and immediately pulled over to take a closer look.
We flagged the donkey cart down by the side of the main road, and walked across as speeding traffic whizzed past us. The boy appeared agitated as we held him up, and even more so as we asked him questions about his lame donkey. The donkey clearly was in no condition to walk, let alone pull a cart. Apparently, he had been hit by a car about a year ago, and broke his front leg right at the knee, and it healed up all crooked. The family had given him a rest since the accident (they had two other donkeys), and had only recently decided to make him work again.
What can I do? He’s very lame, but we need him to earn our daily bread
You should retire him. Give him to us, we’ll get you another donkey
we said to him.
And thus began the story of Nomi’s rescue. We made arrangements with the Edhi Foundation to go pick him up from Buduni Goth (near Hawkesbay) where he lived and take him to their animal shelter off the Superhighway. Located in the suburbs, theirs is the only animal shelter in the city. Its four acres is a peaceful and safe haven for a number of dogs, cats and the occasional working animal. Mostly injured stray animals land up there, or people dump their abandoned pets when they no longer want them.
After picking up Nomi the donkey, Karim, 12 year old Saifal’s elder brother, accompanied us to the animal market at Agra Taj to look for a new donkey. However, as it was a Friday not many animals were available for sale, so we decided to come back on the weekend.
The following Sunday at noon, we met Karim at the animal market. This time it was bustling with hundreds of goats, sheep and donkeys. There is no designated place for this ad hoc market. It’s right on the main road. The donkey market was a 5min walk away, right on top of the Lyari Expressway. There were donkeys of all shapes and sizes. Some fit, some skinny, some clearly overworked with lips sore from bad bits, and exposed flesh due to bad harnesses. The nostrils of many had been slit by their misguided owners, in the belief that this will make their animal breathe better. Obviously, millions of years of evolution failed to accomplish such a basic need.
We left Karim to wander amongst the animals, taking his time to check each one out according to his requirement. He was looking for a fit, healthy donkey, and one that was similar in size to his two others so he could work them together. He finally located one that he liked. He was a good looking young animal, which we purchased for Rs. 9,500. We were told that donkeys can cost anywhere from Rs. 7,000 to 15,000, so this was a reasonable enough amount. The person selling the donkey was most pleased, as you can tell from his grin in the photos. We paid another Rs. 500 for transporting the donkey in a van to Karim’s house, which was just a few minutes’ drive away.
A few days later a friend of ours offered to adopt Nomi when she heard his story. Ayessha loves horses and has a few of them which she houses in her own stables at Shireen Jinnah Colony, near Boat Basin. We requested the Edhi Foundation to drop off Nomi at her stables, which they kindly did on an urgent basis. While waiting for the Edhi van to show up, we bought dozens of fresh sugarcane from a roadside stall as a treat for Nomi and the horses. Finally, the van showed up at the stables and from the moment Nomi stepped out he seemed to know this was the beginning of a new life for him. First thing he got was a big hug from Ayessha. Next, he was walked into the open area outside the stables, where he was greeted by the resident little naughty brown dog who seemed to think anyone who stepped into his territory was his enemy. Nomi, however, was quite calm and relaxed, and wandered about exploring the place. All the other horses were in their stables, catching up on afternoon sleep before their evening riding session by the sea nearby.
We had placed the sugarcane on a charpai (all-purpose bed) which the inquisitive Nomi soon managed to find. He probably never had the luxury of having sugarcane before in his life, and had the lion’s share of them. The rest were given to the horses. The stable hands are very experienced with horses, and gave the donkey a thorough inspection. The broken leg, they said, had healed up months ago, and was hopefully not causing him any pain. Apart from being a bit malnourished, Nomi seemed quite alright. He did have a small wound right inside one of his ears, and one on his back, which they were going to take care of. The wounds on his front knees had mostly healed up too as he had had nearly two weeks of rest at the Edhi shelter.
Next, a bucket of feed was prepared for Nomi, which he dug into immediately. He was then tethered temporarily to a corner, so that the horses in the stables could be saddled up for their evening exercise at Clifton Beach. While the horses were getting ready, Ayessha and I paid a quick visit to Jaja Mian’s stables next door. We were greeted by a very cute friendly little white dog, who was running circles around the place. One of the horses had had a baby a few months ago, and was in the stables with its mother.
Soon the horses were ready, and we all headed to the beach where we were joined by a few children who regularly come to Ayessha for horse-riding lessons.
Many thanks to Zeenat Aunty, without whose generosity Nomi would still be limping around pulling a cart for a living. Thanks to her kind donation to PAWS, he no longer has to work, has a loving new guardian, his very own stable, and many big horses and a little brown dog as his new friends! And last, but not least, thanks to Ayessha for giving Nomi a good home, and a good new life.