I drew this when I was in the desert in India. I spent a week there, alone. Half of the time I stayed with a family that a friend of a friend had stayed with. The rest of the time I spent travelling in the deep desert with an acquaintace that became an interesting friend, Salim. We slept under the starry night, with beautifully crafted heavy blankets and travelled in the morning and evening on camel-back. We set up camp and cooked together, which suprised Salim because he wasn’t used to white women that worked. I certainly showed him how hardworking I am. Hey, I’m a farmer, after all. I’m not going to sit there and watch you provide for me.
Anyways. There are no words to describe the mystery and magic and treacherousness of the desert. The intense heat and the intense cold. The buzzing life, though I thought there wasn’t much that grew or lived there. It is definitely one of the most beautiful places in the wilderness I have connected with.
I wrote a poem on my visit there.
gracious horses wispering across the land
singing wind, teasing the dancing sand
majestically horned beasts ruling this place unmanned
rebelling camels, seeking places unplanned
unforgiving arid discipline
merciless expanse, barren
famished goats on their knees
thorn seas and milkweed trees
shared lunch with two shepeard-boys
sinister vultures exhibiting poise
th evening calls for fireside chainsmoking
undulated dunes, perfect for stargazing
mid-night waking finds me surprised
unwanted touch, I am paralyzed
brutal intentions instantly recognized
despising request I have to vocalize
and the perverseness is reprised
its physical manifestation, clearly chastised
but the verbal aspect of it remains
my discomfort unimportant, he deigns
alone in the desolation I am guarded
I shorten my stay for fear of being exploited
taken aback I am deserted
bewildered that such is the life of a woman.
Those nights in the desert were the first times I have ever experienced my own fragility and powerlessness before men. Salim was a good man. With strong family values and ingrained respect for the women of his country. But his spending countless nights in the deep desert with women from all over the world that slept with him freely conditioned him to think I would do the same. I don’t blame him. I blame the tourist culture. I blame colonization and globalization. It’s a sad reality.