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.

deserted

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.

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