Just for Kids / This Way and That Way

By Margo Wayman


In the arid desert west of the Nile River, lived a camel. It was the most unusual camel in Egypt. It had one hump like all the other dromedaries, four legs like all the others, but instead of one neck and head, it had two. The right head belonged to Kharouf and Khaliq was on the left.


Each of them had their own thoughts, their own ideas, and their own likes and dislikes. Kharouf liked to eat lemons, pomegranates and dates. Khaliq liked to eat oranges, bananas and figs. Kharouf liked to drink water from the river, where the water was fresh and clean and flowed swiftly. He enjoyed watching the fish swim under the water as he sipped. Khaliq liked to drink water from the pond, where the water was still, He thought it was fun to watch the frogs hopping across the lotus pads.


Each neck and head fought for control of the body. This caused a lot of arguments. Khaliq liked to sleep in the shade of some of the ancient temples that stood around the desert. Kharouf liked to sleep near the tents of the Bedouins, where he felt safe. There was fighting, fighting, fighting, all the time, about which way they would go and what they were going to do.


One day they stood by a tall tree arguing. Khaliq was nibbling on some figs. Kharouf felt hungry so he wanted to go to the date palm and nibble on sweet dates. Khaliq didn't want to do that. He was enjoying his figs. He grabbed hold of the branches with his strong jaw and teeth and wouldn't let go. Kharouf pulled and pulled with his neck, but Khaliq wouldn't let go; he held on tight all day and all night. He even fell asleep holding on to it. Kharouf was very angry but there was nothing he could do about it. He eventually gave up and fell asleep too.


During the night, a hot wind blew and carried sand from the desert to where the camels stood sleeping. When Khaliq woke up he saw that they were buried in sand up to their mouths. Khaliq was still holding onto the fig tree branch. He let go and began to cough. His mouth was filled with sand. It was stuck to his teeth, up his nostrils and in his fur. The coughing woke Kharouf up. He moved his head to look about, but couldn't move it very far as it was buried in the sand. They cooperated long enough to try to move their body, but they couldn't get out, they couldn't move.


Kharouf was also very hungry. He'd not eaten any lemons, pomegranates, or dates since the morning before and was starving. Khaliq wasn't as hungry as he'd eaten a few dates. Still stuck in the sand and having not much choice, Kharouf reached up and ripped a fig off the tree with his teeth. Hesitating for a few moments, he began to munch on it. He chewed it for a moment and realized that it tasted rather delicious. He chewed and chewed until it was gone. Khaliq watched in surprise as Kharouf reached up and tugged another fig off the tree. Khaliq joined him and together the two-headed camel ate fig, after fig, after fig.


When they had their fill of figs, they decided to wriggle about and get their body out of the sand. They wiggled to the left and they wiggled to the right, then did it again and again until they'd freed themselves from their sand prison. They climbed on top of the deep sand and plodded along.


The top of a pomegranate tree was sticking out of the ground. Some large, juicy fruit was lying on the sand. Since Kharouf had tried some of his favorite food, figs, Khaliq decided to try some of Kharouf's pomegranates. He picked one up off the ground with his long, furry neck and gobbled it down. Much to his surprise and delight, it tasted delicious.


They tried some more of each other's favorite foods and found out that they both liked them all. Why had they been so stubborn? Kharouf sipped water from the pond and found it quite tasty. He too enjoyed watching the frogs hopping about and croaking. When they went down to the river, Khaliq stuck his head down for a sip. He saw the catfish and Nile perch swimming about as he lapped up water with his long slimy tongue. He laughed as they blew bubbles under the water and darted about through the hidden reeds.


Life was much better for the two-headed camel when they learned to cooperate with each other instead of always fighting over who gets their way. That night, when the sun went down behind the horizon, and darkness covered the land, the decision had to be made over where they would sleep. Would it be near the ancient pyramids where Khaliq liked to sleep, or near a bedouin's tent, where Kharouf enjoyed sleeping.


The fighting began. Kharouf leaned to the right and pushed with his long neck towards the tent. Khaliq leaned to the left and pushed with his long neck towards the pyramid. Neither of them got anywhere. They just stood still, in the darkness of the desert, fighting, both too stubborn to give in. The midnight sky filled with stars. The moon shone down on the land and as the night passed and the sun once again came up over the horizon, the camel with two heads still stood there, on the warming sands, fighting over where they would sleep. You can't win them all!.



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