Patterns. I’ve always loved them and always will. Without patterns I don’t know how I would survive life in the oasis of the Western SaharaDesert. Every day was a pattern to me. Wake up, do schoolwork that my dad/teacher gives me, do chores, play with my brother, go to bed. Every day the same, everybody the same, everything the same, and I love it.
Oasis life is all I’ve ever known. The oasis I lived in is so small it isn’t on any map and doesn’t even have a name. The 100 or so people that lived there refer to it simply as The Oasis. I’ve lived at The Oasis my whole fourteen years of existence. My brother and I were both home schooled by my dad, who is very educated but will never give us the details of how. So yeah, life was good and very predictable.
“What!” I shouted at my dad who has just delivered the big news.
“You’ve seen what is happening here, we have to go,” he stated flatly. I had noticed a change. Water shortages were causing friends to turn against one another and families to struggle to get enough to drink. Our once peaceful community was slowly becoming angry and, of course, thirsty.
I tried to reason with my parents anyway.
“We’ve been fine! There’s enough water for us.”
“It’ll run out and you know it,” Dad countered.
“Listen to your father, our minds are made up,” Mom said interrupting me and finally adding to the conversation. With that I stormed away, my eyes filling up with tears. No one tried to follow me even my brother who was taking the terrible news fairly well. Not a single person that passed by me as I sat under my favorite palm tree even acknowledged that they saw me. Just as well, no one really liked me anyway. They say my father taught me too many American customs. Left to my own thoughts, I did just that. I thought and thought. I don’t know how I didn’t see this coming. It really is changing here. Everyone is sad, frustrated, and scared. I guess I’d be I liar if I said I didn’t feel like that too.
The next morning we woke at dawn all packed and ready to go. Dad told us that we would make it to the new oasis inside a month. This one was bigger and full of water apparently. He showed us on a map that I didn’t know we owned. We put all our things on the camels, including as much water as we could carry. We couldn’t bring a lot of our things, but we left them assuming someone would take them. All that time I spent thinking and it didn’t occur to me until I had started off that this journey would not only be dangerous but would also destroy the daily pattern at The Oasis.
The first day was easy. We took a lot of breaks, probably too many, and ate a lot of food, probably too much. Mom and Dad said that we would come across traders where we would stock up on food. We brought Mom’s sewing kit, so on breaks she could make us things to trade. Anyway, the four of us agreed that tomorrow we would stop less and focus on getting where we needed go.
After a week I started to think about patterns again. My brother talked a lot during the day but it was easy to tune out his jabbering. I had plenty of time to think of all the patterns created and crushed by this journey. The walking, for example, was a pattern. When I put one foot in front of the other for hours at a time it would be apparent that the simple act of walking itself was a pattern. By the time I had thought about this concept until it was dry as a bone, three weeks had passed. Being able to think about one thing for that long is definitely a handy skill to have when you’re walking for so long,
My parents whispered softly to each other almost every night. I found if I focused on my breathing there voices were just part if the wind. Oh the wind! It blew sand everywhere, so much so that I completely abandoned covering up my face to block it. If only the wind was colder. I thought The Oasis was hot but without a tree in sight to offer any shade whatsoever, it was hotter than ever before.
It wasn’t all bad though. I mean don’t get me wrong, it was terrible, but at least the camels were holding up. They were better than to be expected considering the weather conditions and the harsh terrain. We had found a small pond at about two weeks and had taken lots and lots of water. It wasn’t the cleanest but it would do. It had been about a month since my family had left The Oasis and our food situation was dire. If we didn’t come across any traders soon then I don’t know what we would’ve done. Dad told me about a group of traders he met once. He said the ones he saw were rich and had their supplies shipped in on trucks or even small planes. Imagine seeing a plane or a truck!
“Look! Look!” my brother shouted out of the blue. His name is Akilah which means “intelligent one who reasons”. His name describes him perfectly because he is very smart and has a unique look on every situation. I was careful not to get too excited about his sighting because Akilah had thought he’d seen a palm tree quite a lot of times. A palm tree is what we are looking for because usually if you see one it means an oasis is near.
“Not again Aki” I said, annoyed.
”I’m sure this time, look!” I looked to where he was pointing and I saw what he was looking at. It wasn’t a palm tree, which would have been a welcome surprise. It was the next best thing though, a group of people. These were the first people we’d seen in a month so we didn’t care if they were traders or not, we just wanted someone other than each other to talk to. Looking back it was kind of dumb to go right to these people not knowing if they were good or not. For all we knew they could have been murderers! Thankfully, they weren’t. They happened to be exactly what we needed, traders!
Dad had to do the talking because strangely they only spoke English and Dad was the only one who could speak it. I knew that annoyed Mom because she couldn’t make the decisions about what to trade for. Mom had made plenty of clothes and blankets so we could trade for another two weeks of food. We could have bought more, but the traders needed things to trade with other people. The best thing about the experience by far was that they had a car. It was a big truck with plenty of room to hold all the things they lugged around. It was a metallic silver and very intimidating. It was the coolest thing that I had ever seen. My brother was equally amazed and wouldn’t stop talking about it.
We are two months into the trip. My calf muscles bulge from all the walking and I am noticeably thinner even with all the extra muscle. The camels are still doing just fine which is great because I’ve really grown to love those two over the course of this trip. It’s my brother that I fear is declining. He walks much slower and barely talks at all, which is crazy for him. We woke up that day expecting it to be like any other. Walk and walk until you can’t move another leg and then walk some more. It was midday when the sun was at is worst, beating down on us like fist. I heard a whimper and turned to see my brother collapsed on the ground.
“Akilah!” I yelled as my parents rushed to help him. I learned later that he had a heat stroke and passed out. I sunk to my knees and turned away from the frightening sight. I squinted into the distance and saw something. I got up and moved a bit closer. I was the first to see it. I saw a palm tree.
It’s been two years since we found this oasis. It’s wonderful here. It’s basically a small city with more people than I’d ever thought I’d see in one place. The water supply is huge and everybody is nice. Akilah is all healed and better. They have a school here, a real school with teachers and everything! Thankfully, there are a bunch of other kids here to play with. Akilah and I both have many friends. The whole community accepted my family as if we’d lived here our whole lives. I learn new things everyday here. I still like patterns, but not as much as before and I could definitely live without them. Best of all, everyday is different, everybody is different, everything is different, and I love it.