Thursday, October 27, 2016

How to start a fire in a sandstorm

A sandstorm is brewing in a dusty village in Kutch, sixty odd kilometres shy of the Pakistan border. Dust devils are born and dance around, spinning faster and faster, gathering specks of dust, reaching for the sky, dissolving into nothing. Where once, the horizons were visible for miles on end, visibility suddenly reduces to a few metres.

A sandstorm is brewing

There is a maldhari- a nomadic herdsman in this sandstorm. And he wants to start a fire. He ignores the derision in the howling wind. He would like a cup of tea.

His sheep and goats bleat somewhere in the distance. They are obscured by clouds of sand.

He emerges from this cloud holding a vessel of freshly milked sheep milk, his baggy salwar billowing in the wind.

A heap of twigs are gathered and placed in a heap which is hollow inside. Into this, he places slivers of barks peeled off from branches.

Then, he sits around this heap of twigs, his legs straddling it. He arranges his salwar- his long, baggy, billowy salwar so that they form a barrier to the wind.

And leans in close to the heap of twigs.

And strikes a match.

A fire soon escapes its cage of twigs and licks the bowl of sheep milk.

How do you start a fire in a sandstorm? The trick lies in baggy salwars.

(For the curious: the tea tasted something wonderful)

On a day when the sand and the winds were relatively calm

This post was originally published as an Untold Short.


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