A Camel in Bodija

A Camel in Bodija

There once was a camel at the abattoir in Bodija.

This camel and I had a complicated relationship; we weren’t exactly friends but we were more than acquaintances.

We met when I went down to the abattoir to gather some manure from the manure hills.

In Bodija, the manure hills were a permanent fixture. The piles of dung often rose as high as skyscrapers. Before you could get a sample, you would have to climb the manure hills and take your sample with your bare hands.

On that particular day, as I was readying myself for the arduous task of gathering manure for my Agriculture project, I spotted the camel tied to a shack. The camel stared me down for what seemed like eons. I returned its scrutinizing gaze, though I was half afraid it was going to attack me-camels can be very unpredictable. The camel grunted and soon returned to chewing.

That night, as I lay on the straw mat I shared with my six siblings, as my rhythm of my body pounded in sync with the crickets’ symphony, my mind kept drifting back to the camel. Though the camel showed passive behavior, I knew that we had shared a moment. That alone was enough for me to keep going back to see it.

At first, it showed great resistance but after a great deal of persistence, it soon warmed up to me and my charismatic personality-at least enough to tolerate me.

But the cruel world wasn’t happy with my camel and I, so it nipped our complicated relationship in the bud. One fateful day, I went to Bodija to see the camel but it wasn’t there. It wasn’t there the next day and the day after that. My camel simply vanished and no one thought to give me an explanation as to where it went.

Needless to say, I was heartbroken. I never even got to name it. With my camel gone, I had to pick up the pieces of my heart alone. And in those lonely months of recovery, I got to think. What exactly drew me to the camel? Maybe it was its passiveness despite it being such an oddity. I mean, what’s odder than a camel amidst cows? I also got to accept that our relationship was doomed from the beginning. A boy and a camel just couldn’t survive in the real world.

Sometimes, I still think of the camel and though I try, I can’t help but hope it’s thinking about me too.

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