The Mirage Circle

This story is based on the following prompt:

Write a story in which a character lives alone in a desolate environment—the woods, the desert, the mountains. Describe your character going about the day, and use that action as a backdrop for revealing the reason why he or she has chosen to retreat from the world. Then, have another character enter the scene, describing how he or she arrives. What happens next?

Length:  within 1500 words.

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The journey back from Ajmer Sharif to his isolated shelter was uneventful, though Anas was apprehensive at every moment he was away from his dera. He had the inkling that a storm was brewing somewhere, but he was unsure of the ways it could affect him. His annual pilgrimage to the Ajmer Sharif being over, he is back to work now. The dawn looked splendid as he peeked out of the tent. Despite being raised in different parts of the state, this is his longest stint living in the Thar Desert. The sunrise each dawn has been mesmerizing him for the past seven years that he has spent in this desert. Anas made it a point not to miss the dawn for a day. The advent of each morning made his heart flutter just before he opened the little tent door to a riot of gold and red on the dunes outside. He lived in a quaint corner of the Sam Sand Dunes, quite close to the Pakistan border. The rising sun never failed to paint the dunes in myriad hues of gold, orange, yellow and red. He savoured the sunrise each morning with a cup of lukewarm water and a piece of jaggery.

After the morning rituals, Anas set out for the stable nearby where his camels rested. He has five camels at present, three adults and two young ones. Why, it could even be called a mini camel farm! He reared them from calves to adults and sold them later, replacing them with other new born calves. And he occasionally bred them too. He was aware of the different breeds of camels which were reared at the Government Breeding Center in Bikaner. He knew that the Mewari breed is well adapted for travel and produced the highest quantity of milk, the Kachchi breed is short and stout, the Bikaneri breed is the strongest and heaviest, and the Jaisalmeri breed is the tallest. Of these, Anas needed only one breed though. He bred and reared the Mewari camels only and sold them for travel and carriage. He had started this business about seven years ago when he had only two camels. He required an isolated shelter for breeding, away from localities and intrusion for a reason which we will ponder on later in this story. Searching for a deserted corner in the desert itself wasn’t an easy task though. People from the small villages scattered over a span of hundred kilometers from Jaisalmer to the Pakistan border are ever curious of any outsider floundering in their territory. Anas had to skip the eyes of such people, acquire permission from the border police and then create a shelter for himself and his camels quite near the border. Instead of building a house for himself alone, he preferred living in a strong tent like the Arab Bedouins.

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