"I'll be back," the boy said.
"Before this, I always looked to the desert with longing," said Fatima.
"Now it will be with hope.
My father went away one day, but he returned to my mother, and he has always come back since then."
They said nothing else. They walked a bit farther among the palms, and then the boy left her at the entrance to her tent.
"I'll return, just as your father came back to your mother," he said.
He saw that Fatima's eyes were filled with tears.
"You're crying?" "I'm a woman of the desert," she said, averting her face. "But above all, I'm a woman."
Fatima went back to her tent, and, when daylight came, she went out to do the chores she had done for years.
But everything had changed.
The boy was no longer at the oasis, and the oasis would never again have the same meaning it had had only yesterday.
It would no longer be a place with fifty thousand palm trees and three hundred wells, where the pilgrims arrived, relieved at the end of their long journeys.
From that day on, the oasis would be an empty place for her.
From that day on, it was the desert that would be important.
She would look to it every day, and would try to guess which star the boy was following in search of his treasure.
She would have to send her kisses on the wind, hoping that the wind would touch the boy's face, and would tell him that she was alive.
That she was waiting for him, a woman awaiting a courageous man in search of his treasure.
From that day on, the desert would represent only one thing to her: the hope for his return.