The rainbow over the desert sky


Saleh Al Shaibany

Real life can be chaotic, but at least there is some excitement when you slowdown to pay attention to the detail

The scarcity of rain is a blessing in disguise here in Oman. We get to appreciate its magic and catch the sight of the rare rainbow when it paints the sky.

I slept in a land where the clouds touched the mountaintops and the flowers swayed in the gentle breeze. But I woke up to the world of complete chaos where the shrill of the telephone shook the side table where the banging of the road workers threatened a minor earthquake. It was eight in the morning and I knew I would have a bad start for the rest of the day. The phone stopped ringing when I was reaching for it, as if it were a wake-up call that had done its job. I parted the curtains and saw huge machines drilling holes on the road.

Drivers were patiently waiting to cross the road and my neighbours were keeping a low profile. Amidst the chaos, there were some people who had learnt to go along with the huge wave of rush. The same patience was displayed when a long line of meandering traffic halted cars on the street. Not one driver honked his horn. It was a complete organised chaos. I let my eyes trail away from the scene to the distant mountains. Yes, I could see their peaks touching the milky smoke of the white clouds. And I enjoyed the scene.

There was no wind, though, to encourage the flowers in my garden to get into a dancing gig. After a quick breakfast, I decided to greet the day by driving out but away from the traffic.

It did not take me long to get sucked up by another traffic on the highway. Five minutes later, the heavens opened up while I was still crawling behind  a line of cars. Heavy drops of rain pounded my car, and soon, puddles of water formed on the roadside. The clouds completely covered the sky and the mountains were hidden behind the curtain of heavy mist. I was hoping for a silver lining in the sky and I was not disappointed.

When two clouds got close to kissing range, the lightening struck and the thunder that followed was deafening. The streak of silver light between the clouds momentarily lit up the sky. I could see wipers moving left to right in their desperate effort to clear the view of the drivers.

A child walked out from a car in front of me, and with wide, outstretched hands, let herself be drenched in the rain. Another kid from a car behind did the same.

In Oman, a downpour is so rare that we treat it as a great occasion. People enjoy sitting down doing nothing but watch the drizzle. They have the perfect excuse to give their bosses that they were caught up in the rain.

I reached my office an hour behind schedule. The short walk to my office building soaked me to my skin. Almost everybody was at the window looking outside to cheer the rain. Business had stopped dead on its tracks and everybody was using the rain as an excuse for not meeting the deadline.

I would have driven right back home if it were not for the traffic. My twelve-year-old daughter called and excitedly explained in detail what she saw outside her bedroom window. I listened to her, wondering what would have happened to Oman if there were regular rains. The region would have become greener and the romance associated with the desert disappeared.

So the scarcity of rain is a blessing in disguise and a rare treat in the desert. We get to appreciate its magic.

When the day finally surrendered to the night, I thought about how I had spent my waking hours. Real life can be chaotic, but at least there is some excitement when you slowdown to pay attention to the detail. It rained again at night, and the sound of the drops hitting the window panes lulled me to sleep. It was a dreamless one and I woke up dreading another traffic nightmare. At least it was another morning and another unexpected event waiting to unfold.

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