A Boy in the Desert

Okay, so this post is going to be a bit… different to the way I tend to blog.

Whilst I usually write longer, more dawdling pieces, I have tried to attempt a more ‘story-like’ piece dedicated to the woman who encouraged me to travel. She has no idea who I am but when I discovered her blog only six months ago, it inspired me to book my flights to India and stay here for two months. A year ago I never would’ve imagined I’d be sitting here in Jodhpur, having just returned from a weekend in Udaipur and listening to the girls I volunteer with sing a Katy Perry song in anticipation of the arrival of filmmaker Deepa Mehta, but, here we are and here I am, proof that someone’s writing and stories can help me create my own.

He was the son of the woman who made our lunch when we arrived in the Thar desert village of Setrawa. A boy of about five, he had the most expressive brown eyes and only wore a thick jumper over tattered, thin shorts, his small feet either barefoot or encased in his father’s large sandals as he ran around the fields.

He was shy.

Or at least, he appeared to be. He clutched at his mother’s sari and hid away when we smiled at him whilst eating chapati’s and aloo in his family compound, and when we tried to engage him in conversation in our broken Hindi, he didn’t respond (although we later found that was because he spoke another language). We spent over two hours in his company and despite the fact he seemed shy he stayed in our presence at all times.

He followed us around as our guide showed us their compound, silent and watchful at all times whilst his younger sister cried due to fever.

One of the goats he (and all of us!) liked

But when we came across two kids (baby goats, not human children!) suckling from their mother, he glowed. Instantly he began animatedly talking to us, showing us these kids who had by now started running about on their spindly legs. He laughed with us, pointed at them with us and talked, talked and talked at us although we couldn’t respond to him other than with grunts and ‘mmm’s? He showed us his cow and calf, happily chatting away as we drank chai, ate desert berries and watched the cow get milked. He was still gossiping as we walked away an hour and a half later to get ready to visit the sand dunes, and he was probably still conversing once we left and watched the sunset.



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