Raja the Runaway Camel is soon to be published. It's a story I wrote exactly eight years ago and was inspired by a camel I saw in Jaipur.
Standing by the edge of the dusty street, has cart still attached but his reins hanging loose about his neck, he was shifting from foot to foot. The tree he stood by offered precious little shade from the unrelenting sun and there was no sign of any water or food for him.
From his expression, I could tell that he was musing. He was deep in conversation with himself over whether he should make a run for it. Freedom beckoned.
There are animals like Raja in service the world over. They are the unheralded backbone of rural economies across the globe. From the bullock carts of India to the pack mules of Peru, animals carry out their daily drudge with uncomplaining stoicism.
Sometimes ill treated, often badly nourished and dehydrated, many of these animals suffer in silence for many years.
There are many charities who do sterling work in the field of education and support for people whose animals represent their livelihood. Two in particular get my vote, the Donkey Sanctuary and SPANA whose trained vets and animal specialists offer free training and health care for working donkeys, horses and mules in many parts of the world.
I have no idea whether the camel I met in Rajastan ever did take his chance and leg it. I would love to think that he did and that even now he is enjoying a well earned rest and freedom.