Love in Hills, A Nomad’s Family Story by my Friend Michael Asher

There had been drought and famine that year and many nomads had left the hills to seek refuge in the city. We had been travelling through a sandstorm for two days and as it began to blow itself out, we saw spectral figures emerging from the dust. They were a nomad family on the move with laden camels.

We halted to greet them and exchange news, and it turned out that they were coming from a city where they had spent some time. I asked one young nomad, named ‘Omar, how they had got on there.

‘I got some plastic shoes,’ he grinned, ‘but they are not so good as the leather ones we make. We also got some food, but many of the city people behaved in a cruel way, not only to us, but to each other. It seemed that they had forgotten their human-ness and become like confined animals.’

When I pressed him, ‘Omar told me that as a boy his cousin had kept a young gazelle in a stone pen. ‘Even though he fed her well, the gazelle began to grow sick. Then my uncle told him to let her go, because, he said, she was born to run free among the grasses and the thorn trees with the leopards and the crows, the ants and the beetles, the hares, the barbary sheep and the fennec foxes. He said God did not make her to live in a stone pen, but to feel the earth under her hooves, the wind and rain on her skin, and to live among the voices of other creatures.’

‘We are like that gazelle,’ he went on. ‘We are born free to run in the hills, to live without walls or barriers. We are born to love each other in a world where wind, waters, clouds and rain, and a host of other creatures, are our family. When we are cut off from that world, we forget who we are – even our love for our own kin becomes brittle.’

Afterwards, I gave him water from our skins, and asked him where they would go now. ‘Back to the hills,’ he said. ‘We still have some goats and camels. It is better to face dangers with a brave heart than to lose one’s soul hiding behind walls. God is generous. I would rather starve than go back to the city.’

As the family disappeared into the sand-mist later, I realized that they were carrying everything they owned on their camels. I envied them their freedom.

A Brief about my Friend Michael Asher

Michael Asher FRGS FRSL is an author, historian, deep ecologist and desert explorer who has covered more than 30,000 miles on foot and camel. He spent three years living with a traditional nomadic tribe in Sudan.

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A heart touching Nomads’ family story, returning from the city back to the hills.

2 thoughts on “Love in Hills, A Nomad’s Family Story by my Friend Michael Asher”

  1. This is a poignant story, and it has a moral bearing that we should be aware of, but like with all teaching of that kind, it doesn’t tell the whole truth. There are altruistic, helpful to others and animals, people in the cities, – I write about them, and I am one of them. If we were all living in the desert, the world wouldn’t develop. No medical progress, no antibiotics, no knowledge – universities, no beauty of temples, mosques, and cathedrals. Nomads, as interesting as they are to meet through the journey in the desert, are aimless, with no goals to change the world for the better.


    1. Yes, I’m agree with you. This is written by Michael Asher, he is in love of nature and nomadism. The cities are also integral and important part of the society. Michales intention is just to tell the nomads, the life in the cities for them is tough and challenging. The life in the remote is easy and close to the nature. As you know, the increasing/creeping urbanization is also a very critical issue, especially in Africa and Asia.

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