OUTLOOK — By Majed Al Sulaimany — Some years ago I had visited this great religious scholar and I was talking to him about his stay with us for 20 days and that he will soon be leaving us till the next time! He hushed me not to speak loudly lest you hear and get angry and annoyed with this assertion and decide to leave even earlier? I queried him as to how you could overhear as we were speaking alone at the time and you were not with us then at that time as we were having some sweets and Omani coffee at that time? He replied: Trust me, he has ears all over the place, and he will certainly hear you!
When I was a young child and for the first time was told to receive you and show you around in that old place of ours in that distant land, and it was a day or two before you were going to leave us that poor granddad was crying uncontrollably and profusely that he may not be around next time you came. I wondered aloud the relationships between you two!
I must admit with sincere and due apologies to you now but at that time I was looking forward for you to go so things could return to me ‘as normal as a kid usually wants’ and not follow hard and rigid rules. I wondered that though you were a guest in our house — even if invited — but you did not have to give us all these things to observe especially with us then!
I used to joke with you in my crude and dry sense of humour that in the local lingo you could only stay with us for 10 days only as the cut-off and limiting factor. But you just looked at me with great sad eyes that even as a kid ‘I should have known better’ than say this absurd cutting remarks to you — after all you were our invited guest too. If you remember I joked about you if you knew farming and how to plough because that is what was called for to force you to repay your overstay and being the guest of the house. They even allowed brute force for you to repay the overstay, in case you refused to do so!
I remember when I told my granddad about this, I was laughing loudly and with great mirth, but he was not laughing back and looked sadly at me as a lost cause, confirming his suspicions that it was wrong for him to force his daughter to marry my father and in hindsight he should not have done that. With his big stick he looked as if he was debating whether he should strike me with it but added salt to the wound by saying: what else can one expect the rule — like father like son is very true! I was upset with my granddad that he thought you as more important than the rest of us, especially our poor targeted dad!
I have to admit to you this. I do not know how you are going to take it, knowing you can be sensitive a few times when you feel tired by all the remarks by others. And especially being doublefaced and hypocritical — in front they show that you are most welcome — but hidden and away from you they look at the calendar and hope that you will go away soon and leave them alone to do the things they were used to do — with you not around to keep them in check and forcing them to perform and try to ‘be better people’!
But I assure you — because I know them — and I am a ‘chip of the old block’ — as I am one of them too we will all try to behave and be nice and good and hope it will be longer before you come and visit us again! Despite all the sermons and lectures — once it is night and eating contest time we just behave as if you are not around. Like the East Africans say: if you want to insult someone that badly why choose words or behaviour to do it — just do it — and everything goes! I apologise and am very sorry for all these but you are a great understanding person even if it grieves and hurts you too!
And then another thing! I know you are not a great eater or drinker either but even though you keep telling us that we are cooking too much food that goes to waste everyday — that even the cats (and dogs) are no longer interested in the left-overs — but despite your lectures, counsels and advices they still do it.
I wonder if it is wickedly and purposefully done so you get angry and annoyed and leave early. But I guess they still want you to stay and are showing it in their own ways because they are looking forward for that special day gifts and presents that you usually give out on the last few days! And, of course, all those money for the kids after you have left the night before!
There is something that I must admit to you before you go! If you have noticed that I was not that welcoming this year like in the past because I am trying real hard to remain hospitable, receptive and welcoming! A few cases I had in mind just to tell you to go and I cannot keep up the pretences anymore but my health has gone bad and being diabetic too had short fuses of anger and fury and I think you must have noticed as I have dealt with others, even in the family. I apologise sincerely for all these things and I have a great mind that if my situation continues perhaps you will not see me next time you come but please do pray for me and forgive me too. I have tried really hard this time believe me!
My VIP visitor until the next time you come adieu, and as I cannot say goodbye now because you will still come to visit us, even if I may not be around the next time, but others will surely be there to receive you, welcome you, and all the grace and mercies you bring. For those that do not appreciate and even behave worse than before — feel sorry for them — and pray for them only!