Kinah 17-The Story of Khalid the Kind
“The tongues of infants, stuck to their palates, parched with thirst.” Long, long ago, a lone traveler set out to cross the Sahara Desert, heading north from Timbuktu. Days passed and he made steady progress on the road to Marrakesh. On the eighth day of his journey, the traveler was set uponby a ferocious sand storm. The wind lashed him without mercy and confused his sense of direction. When it was over, he was lost. Dunes of pitiless sand stretched in every direction. There was no shade and he had lost his supplies in the storm. Soon his tongue began to swell and his lips cracked, every ounce of his being cried for water. Vultures circled slowly overhead. The man wandered aimlessly until hope deserted him; he fell to his knees, ready to dog.
The traveler did not know it, but just over the Eastern Dune, lay the oasis of Khalid the Kind, known throughout the Sahara as the possessor of the finest, purest water and the most generous heart the desert had ever known. Khalid the Kind regularly rode the dunes in search of the lost and the forsaken.
Just as the traveler prepared to close his eyes for the last time, the desert silence was broken by the plotting sounds of a camel. The camel and rider were soon at his side. Khalid gathered up the prostrate traveler and rode swiftly home.
Khalid offered the traveler water and the men drank deeply. Again and again he drank until his first had gone. At last the travelers spoke. “Great is my fortune to have encountered Khalid the Kind when Death held his cold hand upon my throat.”
“It was the will of God that you should live, I am but is poor servant,” Khalid responded. “Now you must drink more for truly you have not taken enough.”
“I would drink more of water I am full, now I feel weakness and a great hunger, might I have some food?”
“Food, how can you think of food? Khalid cried. “It is water you need now. Not so long ago you were nearly dead of first. So drink and drink deeply.”
“Khalid, I am in your debt. But I have taken my fill of water and now I must eat.”
“I think the sun has addled your brain, my fine friend. You must drink more water or Death will claim you yet.”
The traveler turned his head away when Khalid offered him the ladle. Water spilled to the ground. Convinced that his new friend was insane for refusing the water he must need, Khalid swept him up from his resting place, and waded into the spring with the man in his arms. Again and again he dunked his new friend’s head into the water. The man choked and fought for air, swallowing great gulps of freshwater. Khalid was pleased.
When the traveler began to weaken, Khalid redoubled his efforts, holding the man under for longer periods to ensure that he would take water. Again and again the poor man was submerged until his strength waned to nothing, and Death did take him. The traveler died in Khalid’s powerful embrace.
Tears streaked the loving face of Khalid the Kind. “If only he had drunk a little more, he might have lived!” The man’s body was buried near the Oasis. His was not the only body laid to rest I Khalid the Kind. “Water, they must have water,” he muttered as he mounted his camel and headed out into the desert heat. (Dr. William Thomas; “The Eden Alternative.”)