Maybe it’s time we spoke about the camel.
Childhood is a minefield of trauma. Which is why psychiatrists make so much money. Still, there are somethings you don’t mention to a paid mental health professional. Things like a deep, wet-your-pants kind of terror invoked by camels.
Majestic horses of the desert meandering from oasis to oasis. Very Lawrence of Arabia. Mirages of pyramids, Persian carpets and mystic scents of myrrh and sandalwood. All beautiful images, but nothing I needed to personally experience.
You see, there was this camel. An odoriferous, spittle-coated camel. We eyed each other with wary hesitation. My parents felt that a camel ride was essential to our travel through India. Neither the camel nor I shared this sentiment. It was the only thing we agreed upon.
In the face of united parental excitement I had no choice but to be dejectedly deposited on the back of said camel. Let’s give him a name. Curtis. I was unceremoniously boosted on to Curtis. Curtis turned his, sprayed me with ropes to spit and we locked eyes. I think that’s the moment Curtis and. I decided to loathe each other.
Also camels are biologically not engineered to carry the human form. That’s why they have a hump. It’s clearly not meant to balance a saddle precariously on top of.
And then, it stood up.
Not in one fluid motion . It stood up on one side leaving me horizontal with the sand and then stood up on the other, careening me over to stare at another patch of identical sand.
That’s when the tears started.
It hadn’t even moved yet.
And then it did.
That’s when the screaming started.
I begged. I pleaded with God, my mother and every single deity to please let me get off.
My mother in between bouts of uncontrollable laughter refused to allow me to dismount until she had snapped my photo for posterity.
And then, her film ran out. So, she had to reload the camera.
My mouth was stuck opened now in silent screams due to my voice having given out. What seemed like an eternity later I was unceremoniously dumped upon the ground by the maleficent beast of the underworld.
I got my parents back though. They gave some rupees to spend at the market. So, I bought a python. I had to take it back. But the look on their faces was absolutely priceless.
Actually, I think mother said, “Darling. I don’t think we’ll get it past Customs.”