Vishu Nanbi pulled up his shirt collar as the blazing sun of the Thar Desert was stinging his neck. He gazed through billions of tiny crystals; not billion rather trillion maybe infinite tiny crystals of sand. He picked up a fist full of this sand and he could feel the warmth of it. When he tried to open his fist some of this sand escaped between fingers back to the ground where it belonged. He observed the remaining sand carefully, he realised how tiny and beautiful they were. Glittering and shining randomly as the crystals shifted position when he moved them around in his palm. If we finely grind the diamonds they would probably look the same, he thought. Diamonds are just pretty stone after all, it’s just that they are rare and that is why girls go crazy over it. He tossed the sand up into thin air, for a moment he saw the sand and then they disappeared back into the desert. He limped some distance and picked another fist of sand and observed them closely this time the sand grains started growing larger. He paused and gave a closer look in his palm, oh my god did I just picked a fist full of diamonds from the desert? He asked himself. He quickly filled the diamonds in his right pocket; I am in the desert of diamonds!
ohoooooooo he screamed! Spreading his arms. Aaarrrggg he cried the next moment when he accidentally shifted weight on the blister under his left feet.
Faraway, Vishu could see a tree like structure. It looked more like an atomic mushroom cloud rather than a tree. A mushroom cloud frozen in time, he thought. But it was still a good 2-3 kms away. He wasn’t sure. You lose the sense of distance when all you can see is sand. Thousands of acres of wasteland with nothing but sand. An hour’s walk later he reached the tree. It still appeared to him as a mushroom cloud. It was a strange tree. The tree was at least 25 feet tall and looked pretty old, 100 years maybe? The trunk was at least 15 feet tall and barely 3 feet in diameter but had a dark brown coloured bark. Probably another 10 feet of branches and leaves at the top trying to grasp as much of sun as possible, as if there was any shortage of it. The shade of the tree was in a perfect circle at the bottom. I don’t know the biological name of this tree or whatever the locals called it. But I am going to call it the “God’s Tree” and this spot as the “God’s Shade”. He even scribbled it on the tree with a stone which was lying nearby.
He drank a sip of water. Suddenly he remembered his diamonds. He inserted his right hand into right pocket and pulled out his diamonds but all he could grab was fist full of brown sand. It made no sense to him. He was tired. He was clearly hallucinating. He removed his shoes and slept under the shade. A sudden gust of wind blew on his face filling his nose and mouth with sand. He woke up in panic and looked to his sides. He blew his nose and spit the sand from his mouth. There was still some sand grains sticking in his mouth and nose, he gargled his mouth and spat out the water on the ground. Suddenly it stuck to him that he was wasting water, the water which is more precious than the Kohinoor diamond! He wished he could lick back the water from the ground but the water quickly disappeared into the sand.
Vishu looked at his bottle and saw there were only two more sips of water remaining. He looked at the fine print which read 1ltr and looked back at the remaining water. Out of frustration he gulped the remaining water. He looked back at the fine print and said 0 ltr. of water. Who’s the looser now? heh. Vishu was losing his mind. A desert journey all alone is too stressful. He threw the empty bottle down and wore his shoes back. It took him a while to wear his shoes back. He walked another 20 steps and realised he shouldn’t have thrown that bottle, what if I find a pool of water on the way he thought then I could fill up whole 1ltr of water in it again heh. He ran back towards the bottle to pick it up. As he bent to pick up the bottle when a gust of wind dragged the bottle farther from him. He frowned and tried to grab the bottle again. A stronger wind followed and threw the bottle 100 meters up in the air. He cursed the desert and ran towards the bottle and this time he managed to pick it up. He realised he was wasting his energy. Now he was thirsty again.
He paused for a moment and turned back to see if anyone has been following him, all he could see was his footprints dug in the sand. It’s only the footprints which were following him he realised, like his shadow. The winds are back thought Vishu Nanbi as a gust of powerful wind blew across. He turned back and saw his footprints were gone. Everyone betrays you in such harsh conditions he thought. He gazed across the horizon searching for another resting place and all he could see was an ocean of brown sand. A vast wasteland which no human wants to inhabit, yet nations fight over it. He knew he was doomed, this was his end.
He walked for another hour or two. “This is where I die” thought Vishu.
Many great explorers have tried to conquer the deserts but only a few ever returned. A desert is not something you conquer, you just survive it. It’s just matter of time now, but I need to keep walking. As death was closing by his senses started getting back to him.
I can’t lose hope. “I have a story to tell to the great people of my nation. This story can’t die with me, No, not today” Vishu reminded himself. Oh lord, help me he prayed. He didn’t pray to any god in particular. There are a million Hindu gods in India. At least one would hear his prayer. His legs were feeling heavy, the blisters under his feet were not helping him either. He groaned in pain when he tried to keep his next foot, it hurts so badly. His lips had cracked of dryness and he was bleeding from it. He quickly licked the drops of blood and tried to swallow it down his dry throat.
As soon as he kept another foot, he felt a stinging pain on his right shin. He sat down folding his left knee to investigate his right shin, suddenly he sensed something moved under the sand. A chill ran down his spine followed by a stinging pain in his left arm as if two injections were simultaneously injected in him. He immediately stood up to investigate his left forearm and he could see two tiny drops of blood parallel to each other. He froze in disbelief, as he knew what it meant. It was his death sentence. He looked down and saw a snake which was moving under his feet. It was a small snake but carried deadly venom. Venom which is enough to kill many humans. The snake was same colour as the sand, perfectly camouflaged to its environment. It was probably sitting there waiting to ambush a prey, a lizard or many be a scorpion or something. Food is scarce in this harsh land and Vishnu Nanbi stepped into its territory. The saw scaled viper moved a feet away from him and curled it’s body and raised its diamond-shaped head to strike again. Its brown eyes were staring straight into Vishu’s eyes daring him to keep another step. It’s vertical iris were frozen but its split tongue was constantly moving up and down gauging Vishu. The snake was defending its territory furiously. No, Vishnu was not interested in its square feet of territory or even the god damn 2,00,000 km2 of Thar Desert.
He was bitten twice by this viper. A burning sensation started at his right shin and the pain was multiplying every second. He closed his eyes to bare the pain, as soon as he closed his eyes he realized that the snake was still there and instantly he opened his eyes again to see that the viper moving away from him in a strange way. He had never seen a snake move in side winding pattern. Vishu collapsed into the sand face first and then he screamed in pain as he rolled to his back staring at the blazing blinding sun.
He no longer wanted to take another step; he no longer wanted to save his country. He just wanted to lie down and die there. A few minutes later his eye started to roll up and eye lids were shutting down as the venom was starting to consume him.