His eyes opened. The dim light of the lamp illuminated the tent. His mind slowly crept back to reality. It was the same dream again. Lying in embrace, feeling the warmth of her body, holding close in the cold December night. He got down from the bed. The cold sand under his feet sent a shiver through him. The sand, it felt good. The golden hue of the lamp made his tent feel alive.
He walked out of his tent, into the desert. The sand was white against the silver of the moonlight. The sky, blue. Deep blue, almost to a shade of black. The moon, pearl white, and the million stars that lighted up the sky, gazed upon him. As if ascertaining his insignificance in the two vast oceans across him. The ocean of stars above him, and the ocean of sand below at his feet.
In that divine silence of the night, he felt an urge to fall down. To embrace the softness of the sand, and to feel her in them. To feel the wind carrying the sand from the dunes just like it blew the tufts of hair from her face, into his own. It was at this moment that he heard a distant voice. Faint yet distinct. As if it was calling out to him. He gazed over the horizon, the sand stretched for miles till eyes could see. He felt he saw a speck of black moving somewhere. Like the black of the Hijab worn by the Bedouin women. He followed it. As he grew closer, the voice got clearer. It was singing. The song felt similar, though he couldn’t understand it, he knew it was calling out for him. He followed the voice into the groove of the date trees. Then he saw her. Her face radiant in the moonlight filtering through the date leaves. Their eyes met. The song had long stopped.
“Noura, is it you? What are you doing out here at this hour?”
“I heard you call out to me. You called for me in your dream.”
“Of the cold December night, in that faraway land of yours.” He gazed at her in bewilderment.
“That wasn’t you. And how could you even possibly know?!!” His voice was frail. Uncertain.
“And yet, here you are” she said.
His mind raced. Back to the dream, back to that night, back to her, to his Emma. He never had been able to forget her completely. It was the very reason he had volunteered for this expedition into the Saharan desert.
“But you are not her…” he said again. His voice meek towards the end. The urge to believe was taking over. He wanted to give in. Submit himself. He was tired of running, just for once and for all, he wanted to lie down in that abyss.
“Not in flesh, but in soul, I am the one you seek.” And she walked toward him. Gently taking him in her embrace, holding him close.
The years had taken its toll on him. He slumbered into the sand. There was a strange comfort in her eyes. And he drifted into the faraway lands, where they were together.
He heard someone calling out for him. He saw Ali running towards him. Slowly the events of the previous night dawned upon him. His mind raced to Noura. He heard Ali again. His mind panicked. How could he possibly explain to Ali why he was lying there in the desert with his daughter. He turned around, but Noura was nowhere.
“We have been looking around for you all morning Pashaa. Noura said you weren’t in your tent when she brought your morning Chai.”
He remembered the saying of the old wise men of the Bedouin. “Fee jinn hena. Meen nafar shouf ada jinn. Nafar tabaan, nafar majnoon..”
“The desert, it’s full of mirages. It will only show you what your heart desires. Even the sanest of men lose their way.”
He wasn’t sure if he had lost his, or found one.
- Eon Heath
p.s.- The Arabic isn't perfect, but it serves the purpose.
p.p.s- This also happens to be my 50th post here.. :)
Image courtesy - Here