Friday, August 22, 2008

The Mirage

It was a pretty exhausting sight – for a man already so exhausted. I could see only a long stretch of desert; an infinite stretch; extending from the horizon behind me to the horizon beyond. Time stood still in the face of an unmoving desert – and it was my race against time; the race with a small twist – the winner would be the one who lasts last. I definitely wasn’t the one whom you would put your money on – even I wouldn’t have!

I had covered a great expanse after the robbery the previous morning; where I had lost all my money and my camel at gunpoint. Despite all the efforts at being a miser, I could not save a single drop of water by noon. And here I stood, one day later, with my throat parched, the sunrays piercing my skin like a sharp dagger but blood refusing to ooze out. Blood too survived on water.

It wasn’t all that pleasant a trip that I had heard my colleagues speak of in Europe when they spoke of Sahara. I never thought I would ever see a mirage but I had already seen three by now. Can you imagine how it feels – you will realize if you try to feed a dog that hasn’t eaten since 3 days. Show him a piece of bread but don’t let him eat it. ‘Jump doggie, jump’ and it will jump higher and higher and do you know how it will react if you don’t give him the piece of bread in the end? I could not even do that. Not one but three illusions of being close to water – the life-saving liquid, the most beautiful part of all existence. And just when you are about to touch it, swoosh it goes! Nowhere to be seen!

Every single step I took gave me pain far beyond comprehension and yet I moved on. I did not even know if I was in the right direction until I reached the famous Ghard Abu elMaharik ghoroud, the famous sand sea, or what I would call it – The land of the Dunes. I could see the great dunes rising to my right; seif dunes, the ones, uniform in their straightness on the long axis with beautifully winding but sharply edged crests. I knew I was on the right track; one more day and I would make it to my destination, that is, only if I survived.

Very suddenly, amidst the dunes, I saw it! A distinct shining and gleaming on a piece of flat land between two huge dunes, meant to tempt travelers like me – water like I had never seen before. It was a beautiful sight, the drops of water glistening in the bright sun. I tried smacking my lips but even saliva refused! My dry tongue rolled on the torn lips and I was about to make a leap but I was suddenly stopped short. Good, at least my gray cells had not stopped working. I knew what this was. And I had been anticipating this since morning. I knew there were more to come. The desert was trying to capitalize on my weakest link, trying to break me down through a torture, like the ones, Nazis inflicted on the Jews. It was a mirage! “You can’t break down like that. You have to fight this desert. Don’t look there again.” And I moved ahead. But I saw myself turning back, again and again, just to get a glimpse of water. My eyes were thirsty too.

But, I moved on. Victory number one! And then there was victory number 2! And victory number three! And then, they were gone. I had overcome my weakness and with a renewed vigour, I walked towards my destination. One and a half days it took me to reach the Bahareya Oasis. But, I had finally made it!

Here, I met Abdel Hayfa, another traveler who had been looted on his way. He had reached here a day before me. Robberies were on a rise in the Sahara these days. But despite all the difficulties in his journey, this man looked perfectly fit and fine. That had me surprised, since here I was – looking as ghastly as ever, bedridden with high fever. Loo had struck me and what a blow it had been. "How did you survive the unbearable thirst for last two days and are yet so fit and fine?", I asked. "Why no.. On my way here, it had rained at the Ghard Abu elMaharik ghoroud and I found a good deal of water there. Enough to survive me through the rest of my journey. Didn’t you find any water out there?", asked Abdel. And lightning struck me, pretty hard I must say! And though, now that I know, my race with time was an unduly long one, though I am down with fever, completely bedridden, though I will not recover for another week at least and though I had the toughest time of my life, I wasn’t depressed. I had learnt the biggest lesson of my life, "Most mirages in the world exist where they should not – in the human mind!"

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About Me

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I believe happiness and bliss is the birthright of every individual. I believe that God is like an ocean and man is like a drop in the ocean, both have the same properties and one is just another. I do not recognize a God who punishes, who is different from me. All things - good or bad - yes, even the bad ones start in God and end in God. I dont believe in the start or end of time. I believe I am the frame of reference, the refered and the act of refering.
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This work by Shreyans Mehta is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License