Nights in our desert were clear and cold. As was customary from the days of our forefathers, once a week the tribe would gather around the fire to discuss all matters of interest and concern. There was no real concept of privacy and the problems of one were the problems of all.

Every so often we would be reminded – if the tribe is our home then each denizen is a pillar of that home. The falling of one pillar would eventually lead to the collapse of all.

But the times had changed and the law had reached the tribe. The tribe elders had no real legal authority anymore. Nonetheless, the tags remained and due respect was given. Most meetings merely produced bromides. It was where achievements and excellence could be lauded and failures reprimanded, marital disputes mediated, interventions undertaken. The custom morphed but endured.       

Like most of my peers I moved to the city many years back. It is only for the festivals that I return. I am an alien yet I am not. There is a comfort in sitting around the elders, listening to the stillness, the aroma of the sands and roasting meats reminiscent of the smells of my childhood. Some might find it frightening to hear the sand move in the silence of the night, but I could still read the shifts. Nothing to fear, just a harmless critter.

I run my fingers through the soft sands. It feels like meeting an old and dear friend. It almost feels like meeting my young self again. A self that I had relegated to some remote corner of my mind. The coarse sand sifts through my fingers clearing all the cobwebs of my mind. There is a cleansing that I feel.

I realize now that no matter where I go, I will always carry the tribe and this desert within me.

Written in response to Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie’s First Line Friday prompt: Nights in our desert were clear and cold…; Written using words from the daily prompts Fandango’s One Word Challenge (falling), Word of the Day Challenge (excellence), Ragtag Daily Prompt (bromide), The Daily Spur (problem), Your Daily Word Prompt (denizen) and My Vivid Blog (tags, privacy)

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