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A whispering gust of dry wind soared like a mighty desert falcon in mid-air. River of sands - both blinding and choking - flowed to the rhythm of the mid-day breeze and slowly gained its momentum. The hue of the magnificent ocean blue skyline transformed into a cluster of doomed, greyish clouds. The faint murmur of the wind roared like thunder, as the waves of loose sand moved transcendentally to the beat of African djembe. Gaining speed. Rising. Wind. Sand. Merging. Until it finally ruptured into a fit of inevitable madness.
The wrath of Haboob had come.
The El-Mashir tribe village, located at the Great Sand Sea near the foot of the Nile River delta in the west, was the first to experience the outburst of dense wind. The summer heat was unbearable at 55 degrees. As humidity increased, people just rested inside their tents and oblivious of the incoming danger. Iman, Akhil and few male tribesmen had finished grazing the goats and camels, decided to rest with the animals on the nearby grassland.
Iman, the camel herder’s son, looked up the sky. Wide-eyed in disbelief upon seeing the immensity of the gusty wind formed over the desertland – he quickly acted on instinct and shouted at the top of his voice,
“It’s coming this way!”
Out of fear, everyone scampered for safety. An unexpected force of nature jolted their peaceful sleep. A loud sound was heard from a distance.
In a matter of minutes, scattered dust and debris were dragged across the plain terrain. Vast clouds of smouldering fog inched its way through mountains and valleys. The wind had blown fast and scooped everything in its arid path. The waves of sand passed through the savannah and destroyed the green fields. Huge palm trees were broken in half but the rest stood rooted to the ground. Male camel herders dashed out of their tents. Clouds of air over the horizon had turned into a dark monster and ready to unleash its demons. They pulled the animals away from the grasslands and secured them tightly with heavy ropes around the wooden fences.
Akhil covered his head and face with a sackcloth and rushed to the rocky hills with other tribal families. Iman wrapped his turban around his head and ran with his father. Tiny debris of sand found its way into every nook and cranny of their clothes, headscarves, and footwears. The face of the desert turned into a huge battlefield of stones, dust, dirt and sand.
Iman ran to help the village women. He clutched the children by their waists as they cried, and carried them to safety. Mothers covered their children’s heads and faces with little sackcloths and dashed into the bayt or tents to hide. Heavy wind force had blown the tents apart. They heard thunderous sounds hovered above them as they ran for their lives.
Everybody shrieked in terror.
They docked to the ground and covered their heads with woods, palm leaves or anything they had found along their path. The wind pushed them beneath the sea of sand, in many different directions. The barrels of water fell opened and rolled on the sandy floor. An elderly tribewoman tripped on a broken pole when loose sands turned into sticky mud. She fell to the ground but conscious. A man’s foot was pinned by a fallen palm tree and could not move.
Haboob’s raging force was unstoppable. Debris of woods, pile of clothes ,utensils, metals, dirt and dust – were swirled and hurled around. Everybody scurried fast to the nearest well, about 50 meters away from their tents. The others, stayed hidden behind the huge rocky hills while the wind’s smokey fog enveloped the desert.
As Iman helped others to safety, a flying wooden debris hit him in the head. He fell on his knees and felt something wet and warm oozed from his head.
“Aaaahhh, Haboob is mad,” Iman’s last words as he fell over to the ground and bled profusely.
Almost half of the El-Mashir village area was destroyed. Several were injured, but the rest of the tribespeople were safe. The children cried, overwhelmed by the dust and smoke. Women comforted them and wiped their faces with wet cloth. The wind slowly reduced its force. The black fog turned into a white pale color. The hot, dry air still choked them.
When the dust of smoke had settled, Akhil frantically searched for Iman. He called his name yet, nobody answered. He remembered the rocky hill where women and children hid for safety. Confused and tired, he crouched down towards it. He recognized Iman’s dark brown turban half buried in the sand. Amidst the rubbles, he found him unconscious. Iman’s face had been covered with blood mixed with sands and dirt. The flow of blood, from the big gaping wound on his head, had dried on his clothes. Akhil wrapped Iman’s head with the turban and held him in his arms.
“I-Imaaannn!” Akhil cried in despair. Feeling helpless, he already accepted his fate.
Haboob, the Lord of the Mighty Winds had ruled the desertland once again.