“Drowns Donkeys?” I repeated, surely I had misheard her. Villager O nodded and continued stirring her soup. I was sitting next to her fireplace and hoped one day I’d have a kitchen like hers too. If this was Ikea it would be marketed as Rustic Unpretentious. Their cat played at my feet, it was now and then jabbing at something invisible on the floor.
“Why Drowns Donkeys though? that is such an odd nickname.” I somehow could imagine an accident were Villager J had crossed the river with a donkey and the donkey had tragically drowned. She looked at me over her shoulder. “No one knows.”
“These names have been passed down generations basically.” O’s daughter explained. “Mum’s is Troll.” She laughed. I asked her if they knew the nicknames of all the other villagers and a whole listing of them followed, odd words, odd names.
“Do I have a nickname?” I dared to ask, adding quickly, “Probably something like Silly Foreigner.”
“Everyone in the area refers to you as La Holandesa.” said O’s daughter. I was a bit disappointed. I had hoped for something like Talks with Rocks considering the fact I spend a lot of time in the hills looking for petroglyphs. Surely something more exciting than La Holandesa.
“I don’t call you la Holandesa though.” O said.”No?” My hopes went up. “I always call you La Portuguesa.”
“But I am not Portuguese!”
“I know, but you used to live in Portugal and you spoke with a Portuguese accent when you arrived here and I get things mixed up, so I call you la Portuguesa.”
I pointed out how much confusion that name might cause for my future generations. O’s daughter laughed.
In my case too, the name might remain, but the stories would get lost. And maybe that wasn’t a bad thing.
We can only wonder what happened to that poor donkey.