Monday, September 25, 2023 | Rabi' al-awwal 9, 1445 H
overcast clouds
30°C / 30°C

Thomas Takes out the Bullet from my Body

A Window into Contemporary Omani Literature

The following is my English translation of excerpts from “A Soldier from Oman, Memory’s Nectar” by (ret.) Inspector-General Said bin Rashid Al Kalbani.

Thomas, an American surgeon, supervised my and Saif’s treatment. My operation was a major one. Under local anaesthesia, I could hear the doctor’s tweezers taking the bullet out of my body. It happened to be that a tribesman of mine, Rashid Al Kalbani, was there with his son, Mohammed. When he heard that someone from Miskan was in the operating theatre, he rushed magnanimously to me, asking for reassurance that I was fine. Not allowed to enter, he was told to wait for my permission. The doctor and the nurses asked me if I knew the man. Upon seeing him from the window, I told them “This is my father”, meaning I took him to be like my father. He was, accordingly, allowed to come in. He stayed in the theatre till the operation was over, and I got transferred to the ward.

Rashid stayed till my uncle Salim and Private Ali Al Kalbani, (who was from Miskan and later became brigadier and commander of the army). Every day the latter would make sure that we were treated properly and accordingly and then return to Bait al Falaj. All the three were with me till I was moved to Bait al Falaj. I stayed in hospital for a considerable period of time but to no avail. Finally, the surgeon told me and Maj. Denson that there was nothing else he could do. I was consequently moved to the Bait al Falaj Hospital.

The Army informed the wali’s office in Ibri about my condition. Both my father and Uncle Salim went to the wali, Sayyad Saud bin Harib Al Busaidi. They sought his help to get me out of hospital and treat me in accordance with the traditional Omani way. Though the wali appreciated their view, he told them that their son was the son of the government, and that it would be a personal loss for him if he left the army. They were convinced that this advice was well intentioned, and that he truly wanted their son to receive the best treatment.

Upon visiting me in hospital, they told me about their conversation with the wali. I replied that he was right, as my joint injury was so severe that it required the kind of advanced treatment that only the army could provide.

I recall an interesting event during the time my father and uncle visited me in Thomas Hospital. Once there was a wedding in the area behind the hospital. It was a big event, drums and flutes playing loudly. Upon hearing the music, my uncle Salim got up and opened the window to listen. He said, as if directly talking to our faraway village’s women “O Miskan people, come and listen to people in festive moods, they’re not like you”, as in indication of cultural differences between Miskan and Muscat. Women in our village, for example, would hide the bride when she was being taken to her husband’s home, as if she were being smuggled.

arrow up
home icon