I caught my shadow on the single-lane asphalt road with broken rocky shoulders that drew a line south in the Thar, save a few curves of sanddunes drifting across the surface. My head was tightly wrapped in an emerald green pashmina from Jaipur, the scarf tail dancing behind our bodies roughly one hundred kilometers from the Pakistan border. It was 95 degrees at ten am. Before we’d set off that morning I covered my son with the usual heavy gray cotton flap of his baby carrier, attached him tightly to my body, and drove down the slippery stone slabs of the fort first gate. It was the first time we’d ride here just the two of us.
The path was edged with desert cacti who wore silken flowers of faded fuchsia and tiny white pearls. The road cut through fields of harvested cumin, gathered into stone-topped drying piles amongst scattered mounds of sandstone boulders. The road curved through one small village of people who lived by shaping them. I smelled dirt. There were sandstone homes, carved beautifully, but most were square squatty concrete buildings, some with bright white lime and turquoise facades.
Muslim shepherds in sweat-stained dhotis with bulging inner pockets, slender frames, walked slowly behind dreadlocked sheep and black goats with twisted horns and rectangle eyes. Six or seven golden and burnt black camels in shade, sometimes alone, like the saggy backed bony cows who occasionally wore 15-inch horns. We passed by dung and clay huts with straw circle tops. Kids chased our scooter, which made me nervous, but happy to be seen. I smiled at the older humans, being, waiting for me to pass.
I longed to be a beautiful woman in a movie, the kind who poetry and novels are written about, dressed with a green scarf round her head, tied at the neck, pair of wheels under her, upon an open road.
Going deeper into the desert, I continued toward the Shakti temple an hour from town.
My dreams were now alive in the shadows on the ground.