Land of beautiful people

oasis and caravan in the desert

Once upon a time there lived an ugly girl named Katrina. She looked like a perfectly normal baby when she was born, but then an unknown illness had changed her. Katrina’s body became overly thin, with long arms and legs. She grew up tall and out of proportion. Her eyes became deep blue, almost violet in a certain light. Inhuman eyes.

The girl was fragile, could barely walk on her own, and looked alien, yet she was a kind and compassionate human being with a heart of gold. Everyone loved her. Everyone pitied her…

It’s not a good feeling, pity, because it’s just a couple of steps away from disdain.

Anvar, Katrina’s uncle, was a traveller. Wherever his travels took him, he sought out local sorcerers and healers to ask for a medicine for his favourite niece.

Once, he had returned from another of his journeys with a black tan on his skin and announced to the whole family that he found a way to make Katrina happy. He sent the girl packing at once, then had a long argument with her parents.

The next morning, Katrina, smiling and excited, said goodbye to her mother and father. They looked so sad! As if they never hoped to see their daughter again. It seemed strange to Katrine. She forgot about it soon, though, among all the adventures, foreign countries, and new people.

Finally, one day Anvar told Katrina they were approaching the end of their journey. They joined a small caravan to traverse the desert. All twenty warriors who guarded it grew very fond of Katrina during the journey, enchanted by her kindness and naivete. They told her wonderful stories about great battles and hidden cities, exciting adventures and unsolved mysteries…

By the sixth day of the journey the caravan had reached an oasis. It appeared at the horizon as a tiny green speck againsts the blue sky, almost ethereal, out of this world thing. Yet it was marked at the map, so it couldn’t be a mirage. The caravan picked up the pace at once.

“What’s that, Rolio?” Katrina asked the merchant, excited. “Houses?”
“Yes, young lady.” The merchant nodded, his eyes filling with pity again as he looked at the ugly girl.
“They are so beautiful! They look like neat little toys from here,” she marvelled. “I bet the people who built them are beautiful as well.”

Rolio said nothing.

After reaching the oasis the merchants made a camp near a little lake guarded by lush green trees. Anvar took Katrina by the hand and lead her down a stony path snaking its way through the tiny forest toward the beautiful little houses she had liked so much.

The inhabitants of the oasis were expecting them.

Tall, slender people clothed in white silks, with flower garlands in their hair, greeted the guests. Their limbs were long and out of normal proportion, they moved with a distinctive gait Katrina knew so well, they looked alien, yet… beautiful…

The oasis dwellers looked at Katrina with warm kindness, their eyes deep blue with a tinge of violet, just like hers.

Something shifted in the girl’s perception. She turned back to her uncle and saw how small, clumsy, and short limbed he looked next to the oasis people. Pity welled up in her heart. Anvar must have felt it for he gave her a guilty smile.

It’s not a good feeling, pity…

“Goodbye, Katrina,” Anvar said giving her a hug. “Be happy.”
“And you... “ she spoke though the tears. “And you…”

He walked away, back to the caravan, never looking back.

“Let’s go!” A little boy tugged at Katrina’s sleeve. “Come with me, beautiful lady! I’ll show you the town, and the fountains, and the garden, everything!”

(May, 16, 2003)

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English is not my native language.
If you see an error or a typo, please, tell me. I will fix it.