From Sunrise to Sunset

He had to get up the earliest.  His job, to look after the camels, meant that he had to go to the well to fetch gallons of water for them and then move bales of wheat and grass over to their paddock.

It was hard work and although his age was barely in double figures, he took his responsibilities very seriously.  To be fair, if he didn’t, it would mean that his father would punish him and he avoided that at all costs.

On his way to the well, carrying the large skins for the water, he dreaded the next few hours.  When he arrived, he used the shaduf to transfer the water from the well to his skins.  Then, with one skin over each shoulder he trudged back to the camels, water dripping behind him.  Pouring the water, carefully into the camel’s water trough, he undertook the journey back to the well again.

On his way back, he looked ahead of him at the horizon and noticed that the sun had peeped her nose over the edge. Shining rays of gold across the dark sky.  He fell to the ground immediately, to begin his morning prayer to RA.  After his time worshipping, he continued his journey to get more water for his camels.

RA had begun his journey across the heavens in his chariot.  The young boy knew that RA would reach his summit before he finished his work with his camels and the heat would be almost unbearable.  He tried to speed up, while the sun was more forgiving.  Eventually, having filled all the troughs up to overflowing, he began to move the bales of wheat and grass across from the stack into the paddocks.  After several trips, carrying the heavy bales, he took up his crudely fashioned shovel and broom and began the arduous task of removing the dung to the compost heap on the edge of the village.

Finally, with RA, at the highest point in the heavens, the boy made his way wearily back to his hut.  He was starving and hoped that his mother had cooked his brunch.  Bread, cheese and if he was lucky, an egg, would be waiting for him when he arrived home.  His mother barely noticed him when he scooped aside the fly-net to enter the ramshackle shelter.  She was engrossed in the jewellery she was making, an income for her to help support her family.  She couldn’t help her husband out in the fields, as she had three small children under five, too young to be of any use on the farm.  But at least her three older children were able to, the two eldest working in the fields with their father and the middle child, who had just arrived home, taking care of their camels.

After eating his fill, the young boy drank as much goat’s milk as he could before he was too full.  He went and laid on the skins, next to a sleeping toddler and drifted off into a pleasant doze.

All the family gathered together for their evening meal, sitting cross legged on the floor of their cabin.  Mother provided a dish made from lentils, goat cheese and onions, with spices which made it taste magical.   It was a favourite of all the family, even the baby dipped his little fingers into the communal pot shared by everyone.  Each person had their own water dish to rinse off their hands, sand and dust was inevitably everywhere.  After the meal, Mother put out grapes, raisins and pomegranate seeds, together with a sweet rice dish.  The family were full and sat back chatting about their day, relaxing until the horn sounded and they all rushed outside to begin their evening worship.  The whole village congregated together in mutual adoration of their god RA.  Raising up their hands as the sun dipped below the horizon and darkness fell.

652 words – Sandy Bryson

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