Radio repeatedly kept broadcasting the date of the great event. The race!
The camel race of Dissayah.
Young and old are equally excited about the event. The race had always driven their spirits to the peak. The roads to Dissayah would throng with people ,camels ,vehicles ,drummers and more.
The whole desert was filled with colourful tents pitched close to one another. Wherever the tents did not rise the sand shimmered in golden. The dust flew in all directions carrying with it the scent of camel dung. Camel owners of different nationalities had arrived well in advance for the event and has set up training facilities for their teams. The aroma of garlic hinted cooking meat was in progress ,with music to keep the fire burning as the winter crescent shone among twinkling stars, while the international media now shared desert tales of Dissayah.The camel race – the big festival of rich masters.
Safar taking the radio in one hand and a baked flat bread in the other went and sat near Rayla.
The huge citadel enclosed the residential space , gardens ,office rooms,prayer halls , a small park and rooms for helpers, vehicles in sheds , birds in cages and goldfish in aquarium.
Safar fed Rayla the khubz , stroked her chin and lay beside her with his head propped up against her hump. “When are we going to the training camp? “ asked Rayla.
Ecstatic with the thought of great food Rayla sprang up leaving Safar fallen flat on the floor.
“Every thing depends on husoor’s orders.” said Safar. Rayla frowned in disappointment and began to kick hard on the ground grunting loudly.
“Quiet !Rayla quiet! “Whispered Safar.
“Do you want Nijad to come with the whip?”
Rayla lay down ,her long neck slowly gulping down her sadness resulting from a dream that continued to remain a dream.
A couple of hours later Nijad appeared and croaked from a stone’s throw away.
“Safar ! you rascal ! you had stolen the maid’s bread and given it to this ass on long legs.! ” He slapped Safar hard on his face ,hurling him down right into the dusty ground. As Safar was wiping the dust off his face Nijad croaked again.
“Clean this place fast ! Reins and all racing gear on this wild beast. Engineer will be here any moment. From the few steps he had paced Nijad paused , turned and croaked very loudly “with husoor”!
As fast as he could , Safar tidied the surroundings and put reigns, decorations and red cloth with blue motifs on Rayla.
“Why am I getting ready? “ Rayla was getting excited.
Safar tried to hold his giggle from exploding into a loud laughter. “The husoor is getting you married off .“ he replied.
“Exemplary race camel must that Engineer be!” Rayla began seeing her groom arrive , just like a mirage .
“Kind man our husoor is.!
So this is the reason why I was brought to this palace from that tiny pen in the desert.
Husoor thinks I need to be rewarded for my fantastic performance in the last race”
From a beaming state of excitement , weather turned harsh in Rayla’s dreamland when a man in a fine European attire accompanied husoor and Nijad towards her. Soon a colourful umbrella rose with table and chairs beneath. Servants rushed in with snacks and drinks.
Nijad pulled an unwilling Rayla forward . She grunted and lay down. Whoosh! The whip came down fast.
“Mr.Ravi Kumar, my camel had finished as the runner up last season. That stupid boy is worthless. More he is eight now.”
The sheikh spoke fast .
“Respect upon you great master! my robot will help you to make your lovely humpy princess become the winner this time.
To assure your noble heart , let me tell you more about my robots . Horse and camel jockeys and elephant mahouts are my robots ! many!”
The Arab’s jaw dropped . “Elephant? Where ? ” He panicked.
“Honorable sheik it is for the land from where I come. Very huge elephants line up obediently under my robots ‘ commands. The robots parade the Indian tuskers for the temple festivals.”
The sheikh was impressed.
Mr.RaviKumar received a fortune for selling him “Thuj” the robot camel jockey.
Desert from town . Rayla was grunting in numerous tones of disapproval. The tiring training schedule with froth filling the mouth ,sun glaring in the eyes , dust filling the lungs, Nijad croaking into ears with a big trumpet.
“Nobody thinks of giving me even the tiniest cactus leaf. Why should the ship of the desert need food ? Only yuck tasting cubes to make me run fast”
” Ill motived Nijad now wants that toy to sit on me and beat me. We are the team – me and Safar. Only Safar will sit on me ,and that makes me want to fly. Fly carefree to freedom eternal.”
“First the desert will finish that creature by burning his head , then me and you will run away to a distant oasis. And no one will trouble us ever.” Rayla could not stop herself from kicking the ground.
“Hello friends can I join your discussion?”
Rayala and Safar turned in disbelief . Thuj was talking to them . Was he smiling ?
” Fear not ! I am a friendly robot who is a follower of holy master Asimov. I wear his laws in my real time instructions to operate upon each task. Share your problem data with me. I will find solutions from the knowledge hub. We try to hep others . To hurt others is against master Asimov’s laws.
Rayla and Safar looked at each other unwilling to accept the tale.
Waiting for their eye sights to fall on him the boy machine continued to beep.
“So you think you can help us escape this desert ” asked Safar .
“Call me Pappu. I am not Thuj .I am Pappu who was returned by the customer ”
Awe set Safar’s mouth wide open . “Pappu adheres to Asimov master’s laws strictly.
Set to train an elephant I had started my career in a cool green land. A river tossed water on us when I rode on him ,passing through the woods. That was the royal life with Parameswaran . Gone are those wonderful days!”.
Rayla grunted as she swallowed some corn .
“One would be too tired after travelling a long distance to reach the temple festival and then the drunkard mahout wanted us to urgently move into a ground filled tightly with noisy crowd.
Tired and hungry and with aching feet, Paramu refused to move .The drums and fire works made him yell out a loud trumpet .
The old limping mahout ordered me to control Paramu by poking a sharp iron rod on his ear.
No ! I would never do it.
Take a look at this display here”. A screen in front of Pappu ‘s chest was now showing the caparisoned elephant ready for the temple festival.
“Evey one thought hat I was damaged and sent me back here for repair . The wicked Ravi Kumar thought that I was working again and sold me to the Sheik”. All of a sudden Safar shouted, jumping up.
“Wow ! It is there. my wooden toy.! my doll, the rocking tortoise then, then…. under buppuji’s things… only a red sun thing. He came from a land far away and went back. ”
Safar was trying to remember.
Sky was blue and blank. No clouds arrived to sow hope of a cool tomorrow.
They tried to bring back Safar’s memories about his dad back. He muttered “ma..” devoid of any hope in his eyes.
Divided on his face were expressions of sadness and fear.Robotic arms though not soft ,stroked his bony frame.
“We will go tomorrow . I have the route map to the Indian embassy saved in my memory.”
Rayla dedicated her tireless tongue to command over a small group of wild camels who admired her as a queen who would run fast in the face of danger.
Pappu remained forever true to Asimov’s laws under a sand dune which might be blown away one day.
The class stood up to sing “Janaganamana” after which Safar ran to have samosas hot and yummy.
Websites that helped me to write this story
Thanks a lot to my teacher for telling about writer Isaac Asimov.