OUTLOOK — By Mohammed Al Hadhrami — I visited the Nizwa old souq last Friday after a long time. I walked in the eastern part of the souq as I always did in time past when I used to frequent this place on a regular basis. However it was a long time since my last visit. I went to the shop owned by Abdulrahman al Ismaily, a friend and secondary school colleague who became one of the market’s prominent merchants.
I walked along the main street greeting everyone cheerfully when I noticed that some shops were closed. ‘Perhaps it is rest time. Like soldiers, merchants need a respite to relax from their tiring work’, I said to myself as I hurried to Abdulrahman al Ismaily’s shop, luckily it was open. I stepped into the shop. He was not there, in his chair was a young man with similar countenance whom I recognised was his son. After the courtesies and a little chat with the man I told him to give my regards to his father. ‘May God rest his soul in peace’ he said with grief and added, “my father passed away five months ago of heart attack”. I was shocked to hear that.
I made my way to Ali al Houqani’s. It was closed. When I asked about the man I was informed that he died a year ago. Then I asked about another merchant, Ahmed al Sabahi.
Again I was told that he passed away. Saleem al Anqoudi, another one from the old generation of merchants, also passed away. Many shops were closed and many merchants bid farewell to the earthly life, departed peacefully as they lived peacefully. I was deeply shocked and grieved.
Those who died were honest and simple men. They had struggled through their lives, but they were happy with the way they lived and satisfied with the little income they got from their trade and that was the secret behind their happiness. But they are now gone forever leaving everyone in sorrow.
I remember all those who passed away. I recalled them coming to the market early in the morning with their cheerful faces. They were always smiling as though they possessed treasures. They were landmarks in Nizwa’s old souq, they spent their entire lives there.
I remembered their giggling laughter echoing in the corridors and their sweet voices filling the place. I remembered the aroma of spices, honey and oil wafting from their shops. I remembered the wares they used to sell to poor farmers at very low prices.
These men were true examples of honourable merchants. Their hearts were filled with love for everyone. They knew no hatred, they forgave anyone who did them wrong. Memories of the deceased churned into my head as I watched their pictures which I took sometime before they passed away one after the other.