Due to a technical glitch, the final paragraphs were not published of “Her First Camel” by Susan Munger in “SEEDS OF…Volume II: Anthology of Pacific NW Writers (Volume 2)” by MaryJane Nordgren, an anthology representing many members of Writers in the Grove including Susan, we publish the full version of the story here. Our sincere apologies to Susan, and gratitude for this wonderful story.
Aysha stretched her thin, bony back for a moment, willing the long, hot day to be over, wishing the wind would stop whining through their stall, wondering if she would ever get enough to eat. As Aysha returned to bending the tiny wires in and around the small golden beads, her father Azam, seated next to her, continued to shape and solder the heavier frame of the next camel.
They sat cross-legged on a thread-bare carpet in a cramped and dim corner of the marketplace, doggedly working their trade from first light to dusk. Every now and then, Aysha would have to pause and hand the camel back to her father for further soldering. No words were exchanged; the rhythm of the work made talk unnecessary.
Aysha’s father worked over a tiny fire, using a soldering iron that had a block of copper pointed at the tip to provide just the right amount of heat, uniting the solder to the wire. He knew just how much to apply, having learned this skill from his father before him. Aysha’s older brother studied every move and practiced making a stylized camel frame on which the wire and beads would be attached. It was his destiny to someday take over this role while Azam sat home resting and smoking in their scrap of a tent. For his efforts, the son earned a small fee out of the day’s take. It wasn’t much, but it was more than Aysha got, which was nothing. Nothing, that is, but her meal. Even that was pitiful, but it kept her eight-year-old body sufficiently sustained for another day of work. And another. This had always been the way. (more…)