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Shabanu

Suzanne Fisher Staples

Safari and The Bugtis

Birth and Kalu

Safari and The Bugtis, page 2

page 1 of 2
Summary

Safari

Dadi and Shabanu are ready to leave for the fair at Sibi, where they will sell and trade camels and other goods to help pay for Phulan's wedding. Shabanu worries over Mithoo, the orphan camel she has adopted, slipping him some sugar from breakfast. Auntie presents Shabanu with a chadr, the long cloth worn as a head covering, admonishing her that she cannot go around acting like a boy. Shabanu willfully and rudely throws the chadr to the ground. Mama picks it up and puts it across Shabanu's head, telling her gently that the chadr will protect her from the sun. Dadi wordlessly notes Shabanu's impertinence.

Father and daughter ride out into the desert, singing into the empty land, dozing on the rocking camels, and walking in the hot sand. They pass a ruined fort, and at nightfall reach Derawar Fort. Dadi greets the villagers and the Desert Rangers, Pakistani soldiers who patrol the border with India. Shabanu prepares supper. Shortly after Dadi returns, three Desert Rangers join them. Shabanu respectfully serves them tea. The men admire Dadi's fine camels. One offers to buy Guluband. Dadi laughs at the price he offers, asserting that the Afghan mujahideen, or religious warriors, will pay much more. Shabanu is horrified at the thought of selling Guluband to the mujahideen, who will feed him poorly, abuse him, and, most chillingly, expose him to the military helicopters of the Russians. Shabanu cannot bear the thought, so she stands and runs from the fire.

She finds herself at the village wall and walks around it to the mosque. In back of the mosque, she looks into a ruined garden. According to legend, the Abassi prince kept seventy wives in extravagant underground cells beneath this garden. Shabanu imagines the beautiful but enslaved consorts laughing and flirting beneath the trees. When she returns, Dadi is asleep. She unrolls her quilt and falls asleep.

In the morning, after praying in the mosque, the two travel onward. The next night they stay in another small village, where Dadi buys Shabanu several beautiful glass bracelets. She puts them on, admiring their color and their sound.

The Bugtis

Shabanu and Dadi cross the Indus River on top of an irrigation dam. Shabanu is anxious as they compete with buses and cars careening over the bridge. Once across, they meet another group of Cholistani nomads. Dadi greets his countrymen warmly, and the men sit to smoke from a hookah. They agree to travel together through the dangerous Baluchistan.

The tribes of Baluchistan used to live by robbing the people of the Punjabi plains, though they now live as herders, like Shabanu's family and people. However, people passing through Baluchistan try to avoid contact with the unpredictable Baluchistani tribes. Dadi is glad that he and Shabanu will travel with a larger group.

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