It was early in the morning and I felt full of energy.
I whipped away the blanket and got out of bed.
I needed a walk and ventured outside for fresh morning air to fill up my lungs.
But the moment I stepped outside, I regretted it.
Mad drivers were everywhere on the roads.
I thought any one of them could lose control and mow me down.
I could also feel the eyes of hostile drivers drilling on me as they rushed to their offices.
Some of them, for no apparent reason, honked just to send a message that they don’t take kindly to a lone walker at the side of a busy road.
This was their territory and I was a dangerous distraction.
Later that afternoon, a friend who spotted me at my morning adventure called me. “Were you trying to walk to your appointment?” he said, lacing the tone of his voice with a high degree of sarcasm, “You were a bad distraction to drivers.” I did not see the funny side, but I refused to be upset about it.
Like other drivers on a busy highway, he felt casual walkers like me had no business gracing their territory in broad daylight.
I told him I would find a lonely spot next time the urge hit me and ended the conversation.
That was not to be the end of it.
A month later, he called to ask why he did not see me again at the side of the road.
“I did not put you off, did I?” He asked with a slight twinge of guilt in his voice.
“Not really,” I assured him, “I was put off by the car fumes.”
“Maybe I should join you wherever you exercise now,” he said.
We agreed to meet that evening only, he did not bother to turn up.
“Sorry, a force of bad habit,” it was his excuse, “I have to take long naps in the afternoon.”
“Evening, perhaps?” I tried, “You need to burn off excessive fat in your body.”
“Okay, I’ll see you then,” he agreed.
He did turn up but in a sparkling white dishdasha and new sandals.
“That won’t get you anyway,” I told him, “You need to visit a sport shop.”
“I intend to go for a long walk not jog,” he said stubbornly.
So walking we went but it did not take long before he started complaining.
“I did not know we had mad drivers in this country,” he said, as a car turned sharply just feet away from us, “Couldn’t he see we were walking?”
“Perhaps we were distracting him,” I suggested.
He suddenly stopped and stared at me. “Is there a connection to what you have just said?”
“Yes, but don’t let it bother you. Not all drivers understand that some people walk to stay fit and not to bother others,” I explained. He got the message and continued walking until the shine in his feet and clothing worn him off.
“Can you go home and get your car? I can’t walk anymore.”
I did and got him out of the roadside.
I dropped him off at his car and he promised to call me the following day.
When he did not, I did.
“I’m one of those people who like a lot of body fats,” he told me, “Exercise is not for me.”
I wished him luck and said I would be there if he changed his mind.
There are many like him who prefer long afternoon naps and lazy leisure evenings.
We should respect their lifestyle and hope, that they, too, would respect the endeavours of those who use the pavement to stay fit.
When you come to think of, Oman, no matter what the health campaigns say, we are still a nation of lazy people.
No wonder diseases like diabetes and heart problems are high on the list.
Saleh Al Shaibany