For Sunday September 15th 2013
Between Us Only!
The ‘Sealed Fates’ in Life!
After more than 10 years from the last time I had visited – this week I had the pleasure and the privilege to visit again The Oman Daily Observer Offices and meet some of my new – and the usual old friends there! In my first visit – I was being interviewed for the start of the ‘infamous’ column titled Between Us Only!
It is a wonder and strange thing to notice that many of the people we meet nowadays seem to have so aged – and are so tired and forlorn – as if they have learnt to ‘give up and just accept their fate’ – and that there is simply nothing that they can do now to look at things anew and afresh – change their path – but to go on as before! Nothing has changed that much! Human nature and habits are just like that – and nothing has gone amiss!
Images Workers – For Demonstration Purposes Only!
I look at the newspaper delivery boy. I ask him how many years he has been doing the same job – day in and day out – and whether he has any other plans for his remaining days on earth? He retorts – sadly and sarcastically – What else can I do but sell newspapers? He continues – Even I had to learn how to drive a motorcycle first before I could do the job! I have had my limbs broken twice by a car hitting me from behind – because the way people drive – they just cannot accept a motor cycle to occupy the ‘space of a car’ in front of them! So the many cases when he had to pull sharply right – for safety’s sake!
I had my hair cut at the saloon. Here is another profession. All he knows is to cut hair – since a young man at 16. 30 years later he is still cutting hair – but not in his country – but in a different country! Even here he has to fight to keep his job – with constant checks and inspections. Yet they still want the jobs for their own young men – but there are no takers! Though you would think that people would be happy that there is someone out there that is ‘willing and keen’ to do the job even! The same case for the sandwich (shawarma) boy! The drivers – especially the heavy duty ones! The mechanics! The Municipality cleaners! You name it!
But it is not only the expatriates – it is the locals too! The same clerks, PROs, the secretaries, the bank staff, the drilling jobs, the stewards and stewardess, the airline crews – you name it! Not all of them can get ‘lucky breaks’ in life – like the admin clerk I know who looked that smart, intelligent and promising – and picked out to go for an academic course overseas – takes engineering – and becomes an Engineering Director! Those he had left behind have also moved forward – but the luckier ones to an officer or supervisor level at the most! Suppose the said clerk had refused to go for the course – would he have remained in the same lots – or would still fate tempt him to a faster lane – in another route? Your guess is as good as mine!
My Literature Teacher in Secondary School in Tanzania – that pretty Miss F – then and probably is still – told me – M – Life is like a drama. You are given a role in it – and all you can do is play your cast well! She had a thing for me – she liked me a lot! Years later after I had left the place – she had returned back home to Goa India! I was just wondering out loud what she would be doing back at returning home – even if married now – if not only as a Teacher?
I had a working peer sitting opposite me in the oil company then. Every pay day he would come to my office and lament – this salary is just not enough! Smart I would retort – Be thankful – there are people out there that are receiving far less in life – and some not at all. He even suggested we go into business together – but the idea of business just scared me then!
I should have stayed with my gut feelings – and had never gone into business – and ended going bust! But my friend made it – he became rich and successful! Those he left behind? Of course they moved up too – 2 or 3 job levels up! The great man has even offered jobs to the same peoples – even those who were ‘more senior to him’ at the job front!
What do you say to the ‘bus driver’ who has ended up to be a President of a country – after entering politics? Or the boat man? Or Great Late Margaret Thatcher – drawing attention to herself – ‘that she was just a shopkeeper’s daughter’!
Yet still – in one of my local flights in that distant place – I had met the ex President – no longer in high position – though there were 1 or 2 people ‘still looking after him’. Maybe I was staring at him too much – so he smiled and came over to me! Believe me – him coming to me? I think I was bumbling and getting confused – because this was the same ‘personality’ that we stood on the road sides cheering students as his motorcade went past! Now we were in the same flight – all the seats were economy class! So many cases like him – no longer in high offices of power! Simple people back again!
The other day in the Masjid (Mosque) – I went to greet this great ex high profile personality – now a simple person!. So I said to him – I guess you will not remember me? But you had given our family a good and great picnic meal one time! I tried to remind him. The good tired forlorn man looked at me with sad eyes – You remember a meal? I did greater things to others – they do not even bother to even speak to me – let alone come and greet me like you did. So I should say Thank You – Not you!
As the Brits say – that is how the cookie crumbles! Or the great words of Miss F – and there is nothing more that you can do about it! You are telling me? Remember me? I did try – but sometimes you just have to accept that ‘your fate is sealed in life’ – if even moving to writing as a substitute – can be called that too!
By: Majid Al-Suleimany
Date – September 13th 2013
Words – 1036