One day I harvested a straw hat, tied it on with a yellow ribbon then went in search of the last straw but the camel had already buckled at the knees. It gasped and wheezed while I shouted in my loudest voice.
“Hang on, old chap! If you could just give me a little room, I’ll sit down here beside you and massage your hump with my feet. There, does that feel any better?”
The camel moaned.
“Help is on the way!” I called, removing one straw, then another.
One hundred and forty-two straws later, I felt the camel move.
“I know you!” I said, “I saw you waiting at a crowded railway crossing on the outskirts of New Delhi. You were peering down on a jumble of cars, lorries, scooters, bicycles and pedestrians. Everyone was waiting for the train to pass but people kept ducking under the barrier and leaping across the track, deaf to the whistle and roar of the oncoming train. But not your Excellent Self, of course. You were wise to wait, Camel. Is it possible you were carrying straw that day?
“I’ve been told that you can be mean; that when you’re annoyed you spit at whoever’s bothering you. I’m sure you’re justified in taking this attitude. I would, in your place. Not only do you have to heft all that straw, you also have to put up with the incessant presence of Holy Cattle, creatures that are free to go wherever they like. As an outsider, I’d say you got a rum deal, but without the rum. You should complain to the Association of Beleaguered Camels, insist on better working conditions.
“What’s that? You like the idea? Great! Let’s put our heads together. On second thought, maybe not. I detect a whiff of eye-watering halitosis. No offence intended. You’ll need a slogan. Maybe, ‘Camels for a Better Future!’
“Boring? How about: The Most Daring and Salacious Campaign to Bring Camels into Modern Society-- MDSCBCMS for short. A bit clunky? Then let’s try, ‘The Last Straw: Out with Holy Cows! In with Camels!’
“No? Maybe we should do a straw poll. I’ll get the straw, you can count. No, hold on. Why don’t you toss each straw onto your back while I count? Ready? One, two, three… four hundred and seventy-eight, three million, five hundred thousand and sixty-two. You’re going a bit cross-eyed. I’ll slow down. Four zillion and three quarters… five zillion and--
“Is that it? Is that the Last Straw you’re holding up? Wait. Don’t move. Try not to grimace. I’ll just take your picture. That’s brilliant. Your expression is so original, so in harmony with nature. Wait, wait! You’re fading. I must take a selfie in case this goes viral. Here we go: Me and The Camel, one straw short of the last—.”
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