Thursday


Just people on the deserted beach


Saleh Al Shaibany

Every picture tells a story and that evening, on the deserted beach, the woman in a black abaya, told a sad story. She had her knees pulled up on her chin, the white surf at the end of the rushing waves were breaking on her pink toes. She was crying and she was looking at the water as if to find answers.

I was tempted to sit next to her and asked what went wrong. But I fought the impulse and walked away like I should. I kept on walking until she was just a dark blob in the white sands of the beach. I wondered, as I was looking at the seagulls feeding on mackerel, if the roof of her world had collapsed on her head.

Women are vulnerable to men's exploitations but then it has always been a man's world whichever way you look at it. On the other hand, it is never about right or wrong in a woman's world. It is about the stability they can get from a man whether they grow up in their father's house or with their husbands.  

I would not say women are unpredictable as some men would suggest. If they appear mysterious it is because men do not understand their needs. But women are expected to understand men's motives, show patience and wait for their partners to "come around." When they never do, women just hope that their men would change for the better but does it ever happen?  

The best thing about women is that they keep discovering themselves as they grow older while men get stagnated as they get long in the tooth. All these thoughts went on my mind as I was walking the opposite direction of the beach. In the daylight and Ramadan, no one comes to the shoreline for a quick exercise. Only those who have been abandoned or treated unfairly by some circumstances perhaps beyond repair, would do. My excuse for being there was to pick up unusual shells. The fact that I was more likely to pick up dead fish than something of any value proved that I had other things in my mind.
 
I passed a man who was holding a flute but had no intention of playing it. The flute was just his excuse for being there. There was also a fisherman on that patch of the beach. In theory, he had every right to be there since he plied his trade from the sea. But in close scrutiny, he was like the rest of us with a similar frame of mind.

He was absent-mindedly stroking the side of his boat, the way you would do to your favourite pet. He had his back to me and that gave me a few seconds to extend my curiosity. There was so much tenderness in the movements of his hand to the structure of the wood that really surprised me. Certainly it was his appreciation to the boat for earning him an income. He must have felt my presence because he snatched away his hand from the vessel and turned his head. I just mumbled my salaams and walked away but felt like an intruder who invaded his private thoughts.

For the fishermen, the boat reciprocated his love unconditionally. It would never let him down. There was something about the beach that attracts people who find themselves falling from grace and they needed to be alone with their thoughts.

I left the graceful beach when the sun was continuing its climb to the west to signal the beginning of Iftar. The woman was still there when I drove past the embankment on that side of the road. I really hope she would find the comfort she was looking for in this holy month of forgiveness.           


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Reader Comments




This is a nice touching story but never hesitate when you feel the urge to help someone. Maybe you cant solve her problem but you might cheer her up and even that can make a person better.
Men or woman, we all need friendship in time of need.





very beautifu indeed!