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“Quivering, I made my way through the crowds that stood in the shade like palm trees leaning over a riverbank in the morning. They were standing all in a row, as if they were waiting for God’s mercy to bring a ram down from heaven for them. But that didn’t happen. Walking through the village in my flowing white robe, I looked like the mast of a ship whose sails are caught in a gust of wind. Wad al-Kababish: of the twenty-seven villages in the area, this was the last that remained. The mere mention of its name aroused sorrow. The elders said that this village was once an oasis that stretched to the horizon, a vast green disc against the yellow of the desert, and that it supplied rams and goats and camels to the north, east, and west. They said that no other village raised such large numbers of animals, and none had broader pastures, for none of them had any lakes that were as big or had such sweet water as the one that had been here. Sometimes the treacherous currents in its deep basin would cause it to overflow in rage, wreaking havoc on the surroundings, but that lake provided every living creature grazing in that vast valley with ample water the whole year round.” From The Palm House by TAREK ELTAYEB