"The Desert"by Yasser Hareb"The sandstorm was so severe that his footprint was erased before he could lift his other foot. The sun had disappeared, and the place was engulfed in a maze of eternal dust. The only thing that gave him a little peace in his heart was the halter of his camel, which he held on to tightly, as if it was his lifeline. Despite the sound of the wind howling like a pack of wolves, the breathing of his camel gave him some comfort. He thought of making his camel sit down so he could take cover behind her body, as the Bedouins do during storms, but he remembered what his father had once told him: storms are the desert’s message to people crossing that they must carry on. The only thing that worried him was losing his camel – not only because he wouldn’t be able to cross the desert without her, but also because she was the only creature that never got bored of listening to him all night long.He closed his eyes, opened his heart and walked on, listening to the sound of the wind as it grew louder and louder, as if someone wanted to tell him something. He struggled to open his eyes but couldn’t, so he decided to stop and shelter behind his camel just for a short while in order to clear the sand that filled his eyes. He managed to clear the sand away, and when he opened his eyes again, he saw a faraway light that penetrated the dust. He gazed at it for a while, trying to memorize its location, and then he closed his eyes and headed towards it, pulling his camel.As he got closer to the source of the light, he felt warmth quietly passing through his body, and eventually he found a small oasis circled by a few shy palm trees. The moment he entered the oasis, the sound of the wind stopped. It was as if the universe had suddenly stopped breathing. He saw an old man with his eyes closed, resting his head against one of the palm trees. He approached the old man and noticed he was smiling, as if he had been expecting him.The old man slowly opened his eyes and said: “Welcome, son! You’ve finally arrived.” The boy looked around fearing it was an ambush set up for him. The old man smiled and said: “Don’t worry! There’s no one here. Sit for a while.” The boy sat, his eyes riveted on the old man, who said: “I know you want to cross the desert. We’re all trying to do so. Some of us do it without even realizing it. The desert is the destiny of any Arabian, my son. It bears us inside her more than we bear her inside us. Yet, some of us forget she exists. They think she’s the cause of their misery.”
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