Publicado por: mirnacavalcanti | 24 de maio de 2012

The ‘donkey story’: a metaphor


Dear readers,


I transcribe below the comment of a friend, Jadir Araujo posted at: (in portuguese). I also posted it in:www;, and various other sites… 

I translated to English because of the so many readers from all over the world, who speak other languages…

I thought it would be a nice and good gesture to post his story: it reflects with intelligence and objectivity the real situation of our retirees and their government’s  pensions – (for which they contributed for – usually more than 35 years!)

I suggest you to read this chronicle  and, if you wish, please, post your comments.

Moreover: it would enrich this article if you could tell us about what is going on your own countries about  the retired people and how they have been treated by your respective governments.

Light and peace to all!
Mirna Cavalcanti

Praça Quinze Square, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil as it’s seen  actually. There are projects to modernize it for the Olympics, and other great events

Dr. Mirna, it’s good to have you  as  a great defender of the retired people in Brazil. The memento of Little Mirna (‘Mirninha’),  at 4 years old, with her great aunt and Godmother, Beatriz Josefa, is beautiful!

I possible, I ask you, please, to post the article of my own . It is a story related to  a character  created in Machado de Assis chronicle (*)

Whenever I read (or hear about) the “salary increase for retirees”, I remember that chronicle of the immortal  brazilian writer Machado de Assis, whose title is ” The donkey case“. It reminds me, whenever I reread it , of a friend, retired from the INSS (*),  who was in a public hospital; It must be clarified: he was not at  any Syrian-Lebanese Hospital.(*)

The last time I visited him, his bones seemed to be piercing his skin;…his eyes, half dead, shut up from time to time and only remained opened for a little longer period, when he listened to my answers to his questions about the progress of the replacement wage benefits paid by Social Security … So, his eyes opened and closed, from time to time, due to my stories.

The scenary was a poor one… NOT to be expected to see in a hospital.

A nurse improvised beside his bed ( to tell the true it was  a real ‘maca’  situated in one of the corridors of the hospital…)  a rough wooden stool, on which there was a glass of water and some already rotted fruits, bought by one of his children.

He had worked for 35 years to have in his old age, a dignified  retirement. He was mistakened.  ‘Cheated’  by the Government  itself , when it created the Previdencial Factor (*)… This ‘factor’ ,has been  flattening, with the passing of years, his already miserable pension .  It was so low, that that it was barely enough to buy the continuous medication for  his coronary heart disease.

The ones who retired from the general workers law –RGPS – the ones who receive more than the minimum wage, are despised and forgotten by all – mainly the ones that should ‘represent them in the government – to defend their rigths in Congress: politicians.

This reminded me – for the similarity-  the chronic  of the poor donkey fallen on Quinze de Novembro Square, in Rio de Janeiro. 

Machado de Assis, was accompanied by a friend as they were passing through that square  and he wrote in his  chronicle:
“We saw the donkey lift its head and half body. The bones pierced its skin; ot had the eyes half closed up … from time to time it opened the eyes… as a matter of fact it seemed almost dead.  The unfortunate animal nodded loosely… it  seemed to be near the end. Before the donkey l someone pittyfull soul had scattered some grass, and a can with water. So, it was not ‘entirely ‘abandoned… maybe its owner- or whoever- left this last meal  in the square for  it. This was not a little ‘action’. If the author is a man who read chronicles, and has a chance to read this, I shake his  hand.

 The donkey ate no grass and drank no water, it was now to in other pastures  and other waters in wider and eternal fields. “


The donkey of Machado de Assis chronic, after working  relentlessly ,  under rain or shine, cold or heat, pulling the old horse-drawn trams in the city of Rio de Janeiro, was now finally  “retired” with the arrival of the eletrical  trams. It was abandoned by its new owner. 

The donkey also  thought that those modern trams would be their salvation (its companions as also ….)  It thought that they would retire with dignity  (he and its strivings fellows, companions of hardships…) They would not be whipped anymore… they would  graze  in green fields…  after all, they worked for many years pulling those trolleys.

What a great deception!… There were retired immediately and sold to other owners, who put them to pull carts… They kept  working during all kinds of weather and temperatures, when it rained , or when the sun shinned and also kept on being whipped. 

There, at Praça Quinze Square, it was finally ‘found’ by Machado de Assis.

The next day, returning to the same path, the chronicler says that poor donkey had died.  It departed looking for other grasses and other waters in wider and greener fields. 


Well, when I returned  to the hospital, I was  informed  that poor retired RGPS(*)  friend of mine had died.   He departed in search of what was left of his spiritual body  so much  mistreated  by excessive physical work. 

He and all others had contributed to the greatness of our country ,  but, sadly, they had not  the slightest recognition  of our rulers, politicians and  also the scabs of the labor unions.

May the two, my retired INSS friend, and ‘donkey’ described  by  Machado de Assis in his story,  rest in peace!

Jadir Araújo


(*)  The brazilian systems differ from most of the world. I’ve written much about this subject . I’ll try to find time to translate and explain to you.  Meanwhile, the ones who wish, may ‘google‘ for explanations. (Machado de Assis is considered by many as the greatest brazilian writer).                                                                                            

Dear friends,

I sincerely do hope that our people – in Brazil – as well as the retired workers in all the world, will not have to die to see  ‘the green pastures… Let’s do all we can to call up and raise the  awareness of the governments of  their  obligations…  “YES! WE CAN!

It’s up to us to try to modify what is wrong in this world. Never give up – because – at the end, the truth, the Justice and the good will win…  “If God  is for  us, who will ge against us ?”  (Romans 8:1-39)

Mirna Cavalcanti de Albuquerque                                                                                                                                                                                                    Rio de Janeiro, May 24th, 2012 


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