Skip over navigation


Suzanne Fisher Staples

Sharma, Desert Storm, and Thirsty Dead

Dowry, Nosepegs, and Channan Pir

Sharma, Desert Storm, and Thirsty Dead, page 2

page 1 of 3


Sharma and Fatima arrive at Mama's campfire. They begin talking merrily about Phulan's wedding. Sharma tells about a woman whose husband had her stoned to death for looking at another man, and Shabanu fearfully tells the story of the young Bugti girl. Sharma reassures Shabanu that good men exist. Shabanu regards her doubtfully, secretly longing to stay in the safe circle of women. Sharma sings song after song, including the song of the sainted Channan Pir, whom the gods protected from an evil king at birth and who lived in peace and simplicity.

In the morning, the women offer their final prayers at the shrine. Shabanu experiences a moment of peace as she prays for wisdom. As they are saddling the camels, Sharma pulls Shabanu aside and repeats herself: "a man's love is a blessing. You and Phulan are lucky. Your father is a good man and has seen to it that you will marry well."

When the male and female halves of the family reunite, Shabanu observes that Auntie works very hard to make Mama feel envious of Auntie's two sons. She also notices that Auntie might be pregnant. Shabanu greets the camels warmly and sympathizes when Mithoo, the growing young camel, cannot decide whether or not he is too grown-up for her to hug his strong neck.

Desert Storm

When they return home, Grandfather is distant and incoherent. Mama assures Dadi that Grandfather will return to normal soon, as he always does. A few nights later, however, the family wakes up to a terrible dust storm. Mithoo and Grandfather are missing. Shabanu and Dadi brave the stinging, blinding, suffocating sand and search for Grandfather. He cannot live through such a ferocious storm.

Defeated, Shabanu and Dadi return to the thatched hut. The sand has reddened their eyes and blurred their sight. The family waits miserably for the storm to end. When it does, Dadi and Shabanu head for the toba, hoping to find the herd of camels and, they desperately hope, Grandfather.

The storm has altered the landscape: shrubs are buried, the shape of the dunes changed. The storm has reduced the toba to a small patch of wet sand. Shabanu finds a baby camel smothered beneath a small dune. Despair overcomes Dadi when he sees the toba, but Shabanu reassures him: they can extract enough water from the sand to sustain them until they can reach Dingarh, a neighboring village. They return home, saddened and disheartened.

More Help

Previous Next

Readers' Notes allow users to add their own analysis and insights to our SparkNotes—and to discuss those ideas with one another. Have a novel take or think we left something out? Add a Readers' Note!

Follow Us