The old man who calls The dhofar Mountains Home

While modernisation and ensuing urbanisation have forced many people to migrate to cities leaving their childhood memories behind and move according to the clock, there are humans who cling to their past and continue to live on the land they learned how to take baby steps and embrace the soil they cultivated. There are people who let go of the fascinations of the cities and prefer to live a life of their choice no matter however much brighter the life urban is.
Far away from the hustle bustle of the city there on the Dhofar mountains live Mohammed al Jabali, an octogenarian who lost any track of time or place and let go the cacophony of city life long ago. For him, the dawn breaks when his herd of sheep start bleating for the day’s food and ends when all the sheep return after a day-long gaze in the meadows of Dhofar. He spends hours and hours caring them and spent years in rearing them least knowing it is the stark truth that he has spent his whole life caring for them.
For him, every life- human or animal- is precious and caring for them can garner God’s blessings.
“I don’t know when I was born, don’t know how many years have I been rearing these animals (showing the sheep that were bewildered at the sight of a stranger on the mountains). For me living with these mute creatures gives pleasure and I’m contented”, Al Jabali said in his mountainous dialect that was influenced by various other indigenous dialects.
However, Mohammed’s sons make it a point to visit their father and offer him foods cooked at home. His wife, who accompanies her children from time to time, spends some time with him before she returns at dusk.
She brings his favourite Ruz al Mudhroub, a dish made of cooked rice and served with fried fish, and Maqdeed, special dried meat or muqalab or mishkak, and makes sure that he ate the whole food that she cooked and brought for him and this has been the practice for several years now.
His children, who are employed with both public and private sectors, have, many a time, tried to bring him back from the mountains and put him in their houses only to find that he was missing before sunrise.
They would presume exactly where he would have reached by dawn- at his favourite place in the world- the Dhofar mountains.
“I myself and my brothers had tried to bring him back from the mountains and live with us in our villas in Salalah and Mirbat. But we were proved wrong as he’d flee to his cattle before sunrise”, one of his sons who is employed with a bank said.
Mohammed would need no blanket nor a dishdasha to cover himself at nights in the Dhofar’s subtropical climate. He has never been to Salalah festival nor does he know what Khareef is. All matters to him are his cattle and their wellbeing.
Once one of his sheep got infected and was taken to the Vet by his son. Annoyed at the labyrinthine checkups and medication, he dashed out of the clinic and brought the animal back to the mountains.
He plucked some wild plants and squeezed it till it gave some juice and the animal was made to drink the same. His son said the animal walked healthy in a few minutes in front of his eyes.