Tuesday, July 27, 2021 | Dhu al-hijjah 17, 1442 H
broken clouds
35°C / 35°C
The old man, the hungry cats, and Oman’s storied sea
Photographer’s Snapshot

One evening back in 2019, when people were wearing an invisible mask on the emotion called compassion, I saw an older man walking down the seashore. He was holding a shiny white nylon fishing net and was accompanied by a group of stray cats. It was captivating, so I decided to take out my camera.

He was calm, and his steps were gentle; he wasn’t worried at all about the beach crowd. He began having a serious conversation in Arabic with those cats, who were holding onto his every word.

Being an amateur photographer, curiosity filled in my mind. I decided to take out my telescopic lens so that I could be silent without disturbing their realm, and I followed them through my lens.

As I watched, he threw his shining net into the sparkling waves. I could see the emotion of expectation dancing through the cats; they had seemingly seen this scene before.

He pulled back his net, bringing in some tiny fishes which had been swimming in the shallow depth of the tide. Kneeling slowly towards the sand, he tried to manage his eager customers. As I watched, he separated each little fish and fed every stranded cat.

The sweat was dripping down from his forehead, but still, I could see the smile on his face. He repeatedly fed them for another 15 minutes. Then he slowly walked away from the shore with his shiny nylon net, leaving the gang of stray cats to feast.

I was hinged at that moment for the next few hours and decided to post some of his pics on my Instagram page the very next day.

A few months later, I received a message on my Instagram from Mr Haitham al Hasani (haythooom7), an adventurer. He shared one of the pics from my feed and said, “That is my father!”

Surprised, I immediately began asking him questions. He answered them one by one, and in gratitude, I sent him the remaining pictures I had kept in my memory vault.

Mr Masoud Suleiman Zaher al Hasani was the man in that picture. He is a retired RGO (Royal Guard of Oman) officer; what I captured that day was one of his typical evenings. He loves those street cats, and they love him too.

When I saw the feature invitation in Oman Daily Observer, this hinged moment immediately came to my mind.

Mr Masoud Suleiman Zaher al Hasani is a reminder to all of us of a fading sentiment; the sentiment called compassion, which we should show to all creatures which are co-existing alongside us.

Without any hesitation, I can say that he is a part of this ecosystem and one of the most extraordinary gentlemen I have ever met in my ordinary life.

About the Photographer

Abhilash Pillai

Instagram: theimagegrapher

An engineer with deep passion for photography. Believes that every frame has a story to tell.

Photography Gears: Nikon D5300 & Tamron Lens 18-400mm.

Inspiration: Those colourful dreams which I have seen so far. And those talented photographers who taught me how to see through the lens.

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