By Anam Shaikh
I’ve been to many beautiful countries all around the world, from Brazil to China, from Indonesia to Russia, but none of it can compare to the beauty of the Gulf. Even though I no longer live there, I still think of Oman as my country and Arabs as my fellow countrymen.
I am an Indian. South Indian. Keralite to be more specific. A Keralite is someone who is from Kerala. My family was part of the wave of families migrating to the Middle-east for better business opportunities. I was 2 when we emigrated to Salalah, Oman. I distinctly remember the welcome we were given by the people meeting us at the airport. “Marhaba!Ahlan wa sahlan! Marhaba! Ahlan wa sahlan marhaba bikum.” My first brush with the beautiful language called Arabic.
Any mention of my childhood evokes memories of Salalah. The quaint coastal town with its simple large-hearted folk. The cool climate throughout the year. The lush green Jabal Akhdar. The Mughsayl beach where we had many a picnic. My mum’s kitty parties. The Khareef Festival and the Global Village. The Museum of Frankincense. Indian School Salalah where we could meet people from all over the world. The drive to the empty quarter- Rub al-Khali. The language. Aah, the beautiful vastness of Arabic. Today, at 24 years of age, I have a working knowledge of quite a lot of languages, French, Spanish, Russian, Italian, Malayalam, Hindi…you name it. But none can compare to the charm and vastness of Arabic.
Sadly, we had to come back to Kerala when I was 14 to care for my father’s ailing parents. Then I got really busy with my studies and becoming an independent woman. I still think of those days in Salalah with nostalgia. No, I ache for them. I wanted to go back.
The ringing of a phone snaps me out of my reverie. I pick up the phone to hear a voice carrying good news. The best news I could have asked for. “Miss Nair? Sorry for interrupting you. I’m calling to inform you that the interview was successful and we’re hiring you as our Assistant Production Manager, based in Salalah, Oman. You’ve been sent an e-mail regarding the details. Have a good day.” I can’t believe it. I’m going to back to Salalah. My Salalah. They say home is where the heart is. I’m finally going home.