A Short Love Story!
By: Majid Said Nasser Al Suleimany
My Sad and Broken Heart!
My heart is broken once again – and I am crying now and – all over again – but why? A story of a lost opportunity, lost chance and a lost time – and all that which makes me all cry up … once again!
*** The Office Fire ***
Five days later after the Office fire incident and his fight with the big American CEO, he had quit the place – and taking all his things in his carton. He could not understand why he cared and felt so much for the company – but here he was treated abruptly, crudely and badly too!
As he pulled out from the place, he was crying first all inside – and then like a baby as he neared home. He had never cried like this ever before! The housemaid said to him – Do not cry boss – everything has a reason, and maybe there is something better for you to come.
The Madam came home – why are you crying Darling? Do Not Cry – God will repay you. You did nothing wrong. The man thought – men do not cry, but why am I crying now? He could not explain it.
*** The Mama Mia Film ***
He was watching this film titled Mama Mia (from The Alba Music Group song) and it was about this girl in a Greek island and she was reading her Mother’s diary about her Mother’s love affairs with three different peoples. The finer details were left out … and with just as and ….. (and dots) as to what happened next. She the daughter was reading out the diary contents to her two other friends. She had secretly invited the three peoples in her mother’s life to her wedding being planned – but without the knowledge of the Mother – so she had someone to give her away at the wedding ceremony – and to surprise her mother!. The surprise came into being – but the results even surprised her too!
It was the song Chiquita by Alba that had made him cry! He felt all alone and not loved! His wife and his children and his grandchildren were in the other room – and he was here all alone eating his BBQ meal all alone!
It reminded him of the same song by Elton John – only here was this beautiful Russian Girl (soldier at the border gates – and Elton John had driven in – and reversed to sing to her. She was smiling secretly – but then the Senior Male Immigration soldier snatched the passport from her – and told Elton John to go back as he was not allowed in! The girl looked all alike the girl he had secretly fallen in love with – she did not know. In fact nobody knew except himself, his heart and his lone sole world only!
* * * The Storm ***
The small single engine Cessna planned tossed and turned as the strong winds and rain hit it. It was flying quite low for convenience and comfort, maybe more to escape the thrust and force of the wind and storm than anything else was. It was usual for such a situation for the pilot to push the plane above the thundering storm wet clouds but perhaps the pilot thought it was better to fly it at low attitudes for a better reason too. After all the Pilot knows best in such things than the rest of us, and it is best to leave things to such experts and competent professionals. What do the rest of us know than just to be carried on board as passengers?
The pilot before taking casually remarked on the safety features of the small plane. He was so used and fed up talking to passengers who kept talking to themselves rather than listening to the pilot. As usual when a real emergency would occur, there would be panic and crisis in the air, and hopefully peoples would know what to do then? He kept urging the passenger to move forward to concentrate on sitting on the front seats, instead of staying at the tail. He again insisted – it is for your own safety and in order to balance the plane. Everybody looked at each other; there were no takers to move forward. He looked at me – maybe I was a more agreeable figure or he liked to see the heavier one passenger move forward. I had no way of knowing, and I did not want to be disagreeable anyway. So I moved to the seat next to him, where the co-pilot would normally sit. But he showed me the seat behind him, that seat is to be left vacant if the co-pilot was not to fly.
I remembered those films when the single pilot of the plane got a heart attack, and slumped on the controls. There was no Air Hostess on board who like in the other films could be guided from the control tower to land the jet. Do not worry, the Control Tower Coach would say. This plane can land itself if need be! Or what would happen if the single propeller engine cocked out? I asked the pilot in my younger days when I was still flying in the same route, but now age and maturity has set in and you do not fret and worry about such things. If it happens it happens, there is nothing you can do about such things. You just have to accept your outcome and fate – that is all! It is not a question of being fatalistic; it is more of being sensible and reasonable.
Than the person behind you asks – Are you from these parts, or are you a visitor? So you tell him. Then he guesses – Are you from Muscat in Oman? You reply affirmatively. You ask how did you guess? He replies – because this island has many peoples who left to return to Oman, though there are many families still that have been left or stayed behind. Then he tells you something you know already. You just nod in agreement. Yes, the Omani Arabs had named the island as She-Island-With-Nothing or She-barren-island. It was recorded in History too. They called it Mafia Island, about 100 miles from the City of Dar Es Salaam in Tanzania.
The Germans – the first occupiers Colonial Power had annexed it away from the Zanzibar Islands, the ex Sultan dynasty and the British next in line Colonial Power did not raise an issue. Forgot its barren island capacity? Besides the Germans did not like the name of Mafia, it perhaps reminded them of something more uglier nearer at home in Italy, the Mafia Clan. So they mapped and called it by the name of an island quite near the place. The locals kept calling it by the same name of Chole, but history had recorded it by the name the disinterested Omanis gave it. The rest was history. Mafia Island to this day.
History too was the fight between the two brothers on the boat from Oman. The Elder brother wanted to land and settle there, the younger one tried to discourage him at best and failed miserably. His mind was made up. He wanted to start his life at this barren island, not the bigger islands or Coastal places the majority of the Omani Arabs were settling. There are pioneers and volunteers all over history records, and the big brother had made his decision. This is the place he wanted. Years later, he too brought his son from Oman with his first wife and son and daughter. The two brothers were still not talking to each other. It took the marriage of their children first cousins to seal the difference and partnership. 2 years later the only married at 16 gave birth to her first son – and the Author of this column. That is history for you.
The man behind then told him of the storms and winds in Oman. Before that, he thought it was all rumours. So the bad news was really true? The man said he saw it all in the beamed dish of Oman TV too at the hotel. The Author called home, all the Mobiles and GSM were not working. He felt bad and guilty he had left the place to come on a Holiday, and the storms and winds strike later when he was not at home. His conscience pricked him. He will try to call again later……. Allah Preserve and Protect us all – Amin.
* * * The Disappointed Uncle ***
Before all this and long time back. The Uncle was saying to him – you came all the way from Arabia to here in Tanzania to this small island – and you stay in your other Uncle’s house in town. Yet here you have rented the car only for the day – and you will not stay for the full day? Or night even? Why? Giving a lame excuse, the uncle retorted – A heart is to care and feel! You do not have it in you at all now. You are a changed person – and not what like I used to know you before. It is very unfortunate and sad!. The nephew said nothing back. In such a situation silence is the best answer. That is what he was brought up to say think and feel. The uncle was very much disappointed. He made it a point not to welcome him to his house for lunch, but after the normal niceties of black coffee and fruits. That was it.
Two hours later, confused, hurt, pained and miserable he left to the town. He was planning to stay in town for some more days … but he changed his mind. He left next day! All the time he kept remembering the old lady’s words – of hurt, pain, discouragement, dismal and let down – and this after seeing the girl!
* * * The Girl! ***
As he arrived at the place they had asked him if he had wanted to see her. Her first cousin – that is! This was the other Uncle, where he had first reached the place and on to his house. It was school time – but they brought her over to see him. They were first cousins, and in this part of the world even where the Arabs had come in – it was the fashionable and in thing to do. Get married to first or second cousins! She was giving him such a warm, pretty and beautiful smile – and he was dazzled, confused and blinded by it. Not only she was tall, but very pretty too.
He was lost in words – he did not know what to say. She came in her school uniform – white blouse and blue skirt – and black shoes. Awkwardly he asked – is your name K? She smiled back – nodding affirmatively! Inside he was asking himself – what is wrong with you? You know her name as K! She was the only one of the family staying with her grandmother! Perhaps she could also sense how worked up and tense he was, girls are good in these things – they have the intuition, touch and feel. He asked her again – which class are you in? She replied I am doing my exams this year to go to Secondary School – but I am not too sure really. My two sisters before me got entrance, but I am not too confident (proved right later on).
He asked her if she needed anything (do you need to ask such questions in such situations? Is it not obvious?) But these feelings he had never experienced before. Of outmost confusion, lost and perplexed. He knew his heart was beating loudly! He was perspiring profusely! As she was leaving to go back to school, he wanted to shout – leave her alone! Do not let her go! I want to talk to her more. I want to know her more! I want to tell her what is in my heart! She was smiling (after giving her something – small pocket money). As she was leaving, she turned back and smiled back at him! She went ahead some steps – and turned back. But she was not smiling now. He dreaded to himself – is she crying? Perhaps she knows how I feel?
It was the grandmother who put a bolt into his thoughts and dreams. Perhaps she was watching him intently – and observing him. He did not notice it. Old women are good in these things. She then said to him – she is too young for you! Perhaps she had read his thoughts? And do not forget – you are already married and with children. You came to the island alone – but your wife and children are in the city! Behave and control yourself – she could as well have said it.
That seemed to hurt him a lot. Then he remembered what she had said. In a way she was right. Even if she got her to say yes to him – but he knew he never could bring her to his new country now! There were all these restrictions of getting permissions and visas – and he knew it too well. He left the next day – back to the city. But he was a completely confused and changed man.
Years later on another visit, she was working in a shop next to the flat he was staying on his second visit to the country. This was his sister-in-law’s flat, younger sister of his wife. She the sister-in-law was watching him with all eyes opened. Because she had caught him secretly looking at the girl from the flat up as she came to the shop where she was working. He still kept dreaming and hoping – but they say if wishes were horses, beggars might ride!
* * * The Wedding Ceremony ***
She had finally come to the country he was in now. But she was not the same girl he had seen coming out from the school. She had her own new vision and ambitions. Certainly he did not feature at all in these ‘new and development things’ She was getting married to someone else. He thought it was all infatuation, and lost dreams and hopes in him. The urge to get up and leave the mosque was too strong to his liking. But he must control himself – and come to his senses. It was his wife and sister-in-law that had arranged for the boy to meet the girl. Like the East Africans say – it is that fabric that you wear that bites you!
Anyway, the time, situation and circumstances were now completely different. The man who had chosen her from the other two elder sisters as his bride to be was sensible – and smart, intelligent and pragmatic. He had to accept that it is time that had come and gone. If he had only … If he had only … but he did not have the guts and courage… it was now too late. Lost opportunity and chances, strike whilst the iron was hot was now all gone … and lost.
Maybe that could have explained why he did not like the food. And the groom too.
But he could not explain the feelings now as he watched the film. Perhaps he was unhappy, sad and desolate. And left alone too! And all after the Office fire too!
A Short Story! – By: Majid Said Nasser Al Suleimany – July 11th 2009.