By Margo Wayman
As the sun rose behind the great mosque that stood in the middle of the white- stoned city, Demir was tossing the last of the woven goat hair bags across his camel, Hassans, hump. The sky was ablaze with reds, pinks, purples, and oranges. Hassan turned his head to look. He noticed that it was a beautiful morning, and saw the bags being loaded on his hump. Each bag was filled with scented spices, oils, and precious stones, to be taken to a village far away, across the desert. At last Hassans master, Demir, came along and tied his leather water bag to the top of the saddle, then climbed on. He dug his heels into Hassans side and trotted off towards the coral pink sand dunes, leaving the palm treed oasis behind. Hassan wished that he had gotten a drink before hed left. He was feeling rather thirsty.
The hot summer sun was beating down on them both. Several times Demir reached for the leather bag and guzzled down a sip of refreshing water.
Camels arent supposed to get thirsty very often, but Hassan was not a normal camel. He was always thirsty. Each time Demir drank the water, Hassan wished that he could have some too. The sun felt hot on his short bristly hide. He was waiting for an opportunity when Demir wasnt looking so he could sneak a sip of water from the leather bag.
After theyd walked for several hours, Hassan was so thirsty he could hardly stand it. He wanted a drink badly. Because he was wondering how to get a sip without Demir seeing, he didnt see the big rock jutting out of the sand, and tripped over it. He fell to his knees and Demir went flying over his back, landing in the sand with a thud. Demir just lay there, his face buried in the sand. Hassan quickly reached around, grabbed the leather bag, and guzzled down some of the water. It felt so good running down his parched throat. He put the cork back in the top and put it back on the saddle just in time. Demir stood up, brushed the sand out of his nose, ears, and hair, and walked up to Hassan. He looked down at the rock, shook his head and climbed back up onto Hassans hump.
Hassan smiled a big camel grin and moved along in the sand towards the village. The sun was high in the sky; its hot penetrating rays heating the desert sands to an almost unbearable temperature. Demir used his fan to move the hot air back and forth in front of his face, but poor Hassan just kept getting hotter and hotter, and thirstier. He watched, drooling, as Demir took a sip from the water bag. He closed his eyes as he plodded along, trying to imagine himself at a cool watering hole, sipping all the water he wanted. When he opened his eyes and looked down at the sand in front of him, he let out a loud screeching sound, stopped suddenly, and watched once more as Demir flew over his head into the burning sand in front of him. Hassan backed up. There was a huge viper slithering across the sand. Hassan hated snakes.
Seeing Demir buried in the sand again, and noticing the snake slinking away, Hassan quickly grabbed the water bag and guzzled down two big sips. He replaced the cork and stuck the bag quickly back on his saddle, just as Demir stood up. This time Demir was angry. He looked around to see if there was another rock, but there was none. He gazed all around and noticed the viper off in the distance. Brushing the sand off his head and out of his nose and ears again, he then climbed back on Hassans hump and off they went.
Hours passed. The sun was unmercifully hot. Up ahead, Hassan could see the village. He started getting excited. Water, water, water; that was all he could think about. He started dreaming of how refreshing it would feel to splash about in it, to guzzle down gallons, and didnt see the palm tree until he walked right in to. He got a big bump on his head and once again, Demir, his master, went flying over Hassans head and landed with a thud in the sand.
Hassan quickly took one last sip from the water bag, leaving it completely empty. He corked it and put it back over the saddle right as Demir stood up. Demir was very angry this time. He stood in front of Hassan, looked at him suspiciously, then at the palm tree. He shook his head, climbed up onto Hassans hump and just sat there. He took the leather water bag and pulled the cork out. He lifted it up to take a drink and found there was no water left in it. He put his eye to the hole and peeked inside. He tipped it upside down and not a drop fell out. Hassan turned his head slowly and looked around at his master, who was staring at him, wondering what was going on. Hassan smiled a camel grin, and coyishly turned his back around and began walking towards the village ahead.
At last they arrived. The small oasis village was covered with date palms, bougainvillea bushes, jacaranda trees, and fragrant roses. Hassan looked around. He saw a pond in the middle of the village. He felt very, very thirsty. Demir unloaded the scented spices, fragrant oils and precious stones from Hassans hump, then walked off towards the market place.
Hassan clomped over to the pond. He walked into it and lapped at the water. At last he was happy. At last he wasnt Hassan the thirsty camel any longer. At last he was cool, refreshed and clean. Then a thought came to him; he had to go back to the city, across the burning desert sands. So he drank, and he drank, and he drank, and he drank, until there wasnt room for one more drop of water inside of him.
Demir came looking for him, pulled the rope tied around his jaw, and off they went, back through the desert, back across the sandsbut Hassan wasnt a thirsty camel anymore.