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«LOVE ACROSS THE SALT DESERT K. N. Daruwalla The Rann of Kutch is a vast, lonely desert, almost impossible to cross. Yet, some people do cross it for ...»

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4. The first lurch of the camel next evening and they were off. He had waited with his camel at the outskirts of the village and she had slipped out after her father had started snoring. The moment was too big for them and they did not speak. It was only in passing that she thought of the village she was leaving for good. As for quitting one and entering another, she never gave it a thought. Where did one have the time for Pakistan and Hindustan when one was eloping with one’s love and crossing the desert which divided, both physically and symbolically, the two countries? For her it meant just a shift in dialect, a smear of Kutchi added and a little of Sindhi sandpapered away.

And the camel lurched and bumped onwards and Najab drove him hard.

By the time they reached Sarbela she was exhausted and fell asleep.

She woke up in the afternoon to find the sky overcast. It turned ominous in the evening with depth upon depth of dark-edged nimbus gathering at the summons of a storm-god. Another night they journeyed facing the wind which hurled the sand in their faces. As they neared Khavda, the thunder started rolling and reverberating across the skies.

Three times during the night Aftab opened the door, thinking his son had come. But it was only the wind knocking against the door. This time the banging was persistent. When he unlatched the door he found Allahrakha shying away from a streak of lightening. Huge, isolated drops of rain were falling, kicking up the dust. Aftab steeled himself. He would not allow any relief, any expression of joy to show on his face.

“Son, have you brought anything?” he asked, an edge of iron deliberately introduced in his voice.

“Yes,” replied Najab, as he ushered Fatimah in.

The rain stormed down and swept away three years of drought.


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