Saturday, February 24, 2024

Saddam’s Great Iraq – 14


Now comes the account of a particular day in Iraq. It was very hot right from the early morning. Mr. Mehmood chose to stay at camp. I started for the site with my team. This day’s job was well within the sand dunes. We took the vehicle into the desert as far as it could be driven. After leaving the vehicle, we started walking in the direction of the working site. From dune to dune, we kept marking our route by sticks. By about midday when temperature got very high and stock of drinking water was totally consumed, we started moving back to the vehicle in the alignment of the sticks that we had embedded. We reached the spot of vehicle but vehicle was not there. All of us got worried for the driver as well as for our own lives. Team members were calm but I was not. I was responsible for the safety of very member of the team. Team members were all Iraqis. We started climbing atop various sand dunes so as to have some clue of the vehicle. We failed to find any clue. We felt very helpless. Suddenly we heard the starting sound of the vehicle. All of us started walking in the direction of the sound. We become sure that the vehicle was stuck into shifting sand. We could not guess why it happened like that. Why did the driver leave the appointed spot? After some time we reached the vehicle. Its wheels had gone inside the sand and there was no hope of its recovery. The driver explained to us that he tried to reach us so as to save us from walking in sand in the scorching heat of the sun. For approaching us at our working sight he had got astray far into the desert. He confessed his blunder. He also disclosed that he was very thirsty and had to drinking water. He was told that there was no drinking water in stock with us. What had to be done next? If more time was wasted the men were sure to die of thirst one by one. I instructed the driver and two members to stay with the vehicle and with the rest of three members I started walking towards the road. This road had rare traffic but we could hope to find a vehicle for help. The sun was shining hot and all of us were very thirsty. We reached the road and started walking towards any place where we expected help. We were over joyed to see a truck coming from the opposite direction. We gave a gesture for it to stop. It did stop. We told the driver of the truck that our men were held up in the middle of the desert and they had no water. We requested him to carry us to some nearest place where we could get any help for recovery of the vehicle out of the sand. Against all the story told, his reply was plain “This vehicle will not carry you to any such place. But you keep walking in the same direction for about 3 miles after which you’ll reach a base camp of a government project where recovery devices are available in abundance.” With this reply he drove away without any apology.

There was no other vehicle in sight. Thirst had already started gripping us more and more. We kept pressing and pushing our bodies in the direction of expected help. We had been walking without any conversation. There was nothing to talk about. Perhaps we did not have enough strength to express our feelings or perhaps we were saving every quantity of moisture that had been left in our mouths. In that hot surrounding even this much moisture had value. Movement became slower and slower. Steps became shorter and shorter. We did not even look towards each other. Under the brightest sunshine, the blackest strip of the road was vomiting enormous heat. So all around, we had been engulfed in super heat. Far away we did see the flashes of clear pure water which never existed. There was mild hot wind, but that was too hot to be enjoyed. Sometimes it was bringing showers of hot sand to our faces.

In haze of the extreme hot atmosphere, signs of some type of settlement started showing up. It was the type of hope that could give us little joy. We had been getting more and more beyond sensations due to extreme thirst. Water part of our body had been reduced to dangerous proportions. It was not possible for us all to exchange expressions of pleasure and satisfaction. At the most we could look at each other with partly open eyes. High temperature of noon in the month of June, burning black surface of the road and physical toil of pushing our bodies in forward direction had taken away all interest in conversation, smiling or emitting gestures of sooth. In such a desperate condition, all four of us entered the project camp. In absence of such a camp in the heart of the desert, death of all of us was most expected. Thanks to Saddam’s love for his motherland. He wanted to see every part of Iraq green and developed. The instant we entered the camp, we were conveyed to a cool cabin and served with cold water. Hardly I had enjoyed the pleasant taste of plain cold water ever before in life. All of us kept drinking water, glass after glass, before mentioning the purpose of our entry there. People of the camp had read our faces instantly so they did not put us any question. The session prolonged for quite some time, when I had been alerted about the lives of companions we had left inside the sand dunes. We told the whole problem to the management of the camp and requested them to afford immediate help. A sand resistant vehicle was made ready within minimum possible time and we reached the spot of our men. Thank God nobody had swooned in spite of the extreme thirst. The camp management had arranged good quantity of drinking water. Our vehicle was recovered out of the sand and brought up to the road. We expressed our gratefulness to the driver for his generous help.

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Category: Travel

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