Water had run out days ago, but against all odds the three of them were still trudging through the Sahara. They had set out from Zinder, packed like sardines in dinky lorries that broke down once the desert sands had wrecked the engines.
The trip will last a week, the man had promised. Then you will see the Mediterranean. And across the sea, on a bright day, the promised land.
Adamou had sold his goats to pay for the journey. Others had sold their lands, their houses. They were superfluous anyway once they would set foot on European soil. Once they got a good job, a good home, a good life.
Tabarkalla stumbled. He was the weakest of the lot when they had set out. That he had survived this long was a minor miracle in itself. Adamou and Ghaffar did not kneel down or aid him. They hàd done when the first of them had fallen. They had helped them to their feet, carried them, buried them. But compassion was but a distant memory. Each minute in the scorching sun, each lost drop of sweat could kill now.
Adamou and Ghaffar would not give up. They owed it to their families, whose corpses were in all likelihood now covered by the ever-shifting Sahara dunes or eaten by scavengers.
“There is an end to this desert,” Ghaffar assured Adamou in a dry, hoarse voice.
Ghaffar had just a week ago been a complete stranger to Adamou.
By now he was willing to tell lies with his final, precious breaths to make sure his one remaining companion did not die a man that had forsaken hope.
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