It was the month of July. I was in my village spending the summer vacation. The day had been hot and sultry not a leaf had stirred during the long and unending length of its everlasting hours, and with the coming of the evening the heat and sultriness did not abate, except that the sun was withdrawn. Not a whiff of wind stirred anywhere.
The trees were painted against the background of sky like so many masses hewn out of rocks, immovable and fixed. The whole day animals had been lying helpless, tongues out, panting in the shade of trees and walls, their eyes bulging. Children had been unconscious and men and women had not a wink of sleep in the day.
It was already well on into the season when rains are expected in our part of the Punjab, but no rains had come this year and the land was parched and hard all round. The ponds were dried up and there was no solace for man or beast on any side. The evening came, and as usual nobody could sleep. After a square meal, for no one felt very hungry in the oppressive heat, people got on roofs and into the open to sleep. But no sleep came.
There was no wind and even breathing was hard. The body was sweating profusely and there was not a breath to dry it away. People were tired of moving their arins holding the fans. The air that was stirred was as hot as a blast from a furnace. The cattle that were tied were lowing piteously in the heat and thirst. Dogs were howling and children were screaming. People could not keep lying in their beds in this state, and a person would now and then be seen to get up and walk about dejectedly for some time and in this way to seek some change and comfort from a bed that had grown painful to the feel, and again came back to it to pass the hours in tossing about.
At about midnight there was a stir in the air, and people were glad to hope that at long last the stifled fury breaking and giving way before the wind. But the breath that blew was hot. Its speed increased and in a few minutes hot choking dust was flying all over us with great speed and fury. Nothing could be seen.
Our eyes, ears, mouths and noses were stuffed with the dust. It got into our clothes and could be felt unpleasantly along our sweat-covered bodies. It got into the very fibre of our bed-clothes and struck into the pores of our skins. There was such a terrible. noise of the trees, of the cattle, of the screaming children and the howling dogs that one thought doomsday, on which the earth would shake and all living creatures die, was come. The earth appeared to be throwing up its dead.
From the roofs cots flew down, clothes were carried one knew, not where, thatches of huts were blown miles away. This sandstorm blew for more than an hour. Then its fury somewhat abated and gradually it became a gust and then a wind and a breeze. Hot and unpleasantly dusty, we tried to get a wink of sleep towards the close of the night. This night will ever remain stamped in my mind as the most unpleasant that it has been my lot to experience.
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