Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Quick Characters - The Camel

The camel is known as the ship of the desert and is one of the most common draft animals in the middle east. A 1001 Arabian Nights style story like Setara's Genie must have a camel somewhere in the mix.

In one scene, Setara is attempting to learn to ride a camel. She doesn't see the purpose since she had a perfectly wonderful horse, Nasreen.

We looking in from the outside know something that Setara doesn't. A tradition on the Sultan of Semidor (the area in which Setara lives) is that young girls coming to a marriageable age (sixteen) ride into the city on the back of a pure white camel.

Setara doesn't add two plus two and realize that the ceremonial arrival marks her as a woman ready to be wed to some merchant or even the Sultan's son (who's in the market for a bride).

The spice girl, Najda, who is the listener to Abu Nuwas's tales about Setara, is in the same predicament. She's on the verge of a forced marriage to an old man. As a fourth wife, she knows she will not be treated very well by wives 1, 2, and 3. But she's stuck in a society which gives her no choice on her potential bridegroom.

This all comes back to the camel Setara must ride the camel to display herself as a possible member of some man's harem.

Read carefully. You might win a prize if you can answer some easy questions later on this blog.


Setara screamed and flung herself from the saddle. “Ow! Ow! Stop! Whoa! Stop!” She dropped six feet, right on her tailbone, screamed again, and burst into tears. Setara’s faithful companion, Sheik, ran circles around her, alternately barking at the camel and whining at his mistress.

Dukak, the camel driver, rushed over and grabbed the dromedary’s reins. He tapped the big camel’s knee, and the beast obligingly folded its long legs. On his knees, the camel turned his head to face the crying girl. He drew his head back then snaked it forward, spitting a huge wad of cud between Setara’s shoulder blades.

Mistress, you should wait for the camel to kneel. You fell from so high, no wonder you are hurt.” The camel driver pulled out a handkerchief and plucked the wad from her back.

Setara stopped crying and struggled to her feet. Dukak offered his hand, but she ignored him. She glared at the camel, which continued chewing his cud. “He stinks, too!”

Are you injured?” Dukak’s brow furrowed with concern.

Not much,” Setara said, rubbing her abused backside. “A horse is a much finer means of transportation, Dukak. I fail to see why I need to learn to ride a camel. They sway and bounce around too much and that saddle! Why is it made of wood, not padded leather?"

Dukak ignored her question and waved his hands as if fending her off. “It’s expected, Mistress Setara. Women must enter the sultan’s palace grounds on the back of a pure white camel. So it is written, and so it shall be.” Dukak spoke as if this explained it all.

I won’t be going until next week, so I have plenty of time to learn how to ride later...much later.”

Dukak ignored her statement once more. He looked at the camel’s saddle, rubbing his chin in thought. “Perhaps I could modify a horse saddle to fit. It requires a much longer girth and padding to protect the camel’s back.”

How about some padding to protect my...back?”

Dukak didn’t bother answering since he was busy measuring the camel for a new saddle.

Setara limped away in a dark mood. It was stupid to go through all this just for a ten-minute trip through the city streets. She didn’t want to meet the boring old Sultan of Semidor anyway. Setara sighed. She did look forward to seeing Hasib, the sultan’s flying horse, again, but she had no interest in the sultan...or his son. When she thought of Hasib, it reminded her of their grand adventure the last time they met. Fighting pirates and rescuing Hasib’s mate, Habiba. Setara thought fondly of the good times.

1 comment:

  1. I would love to use your camel in the sunset photo on a book cover. Is there any way I could use this, in a bigger format?


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