Tuesday, October 03, 2023 | Rabi' al-awwal 17, 1445 H
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“Real” Gazelle and “Fancied” Grasshoppers ( Part 1)


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.

After my leave ended, I came to Muscat, to the office of Brig Gen Maxwell. He told me that my regiment was due to arrive, and ordered me to go to Bidbid to catch up with them. I readied myself to return to military after a rather difficult period in my life, a serious injury, and a long excruciating process of treatment.

I set out towards Bidbid to see the Deputy Commander, John Cooper, who suggested to me to leave the company and work in his office. I had a feeling that this was a step before they transferred me to the stores or made me retire altogether. He also added that for the time being he would find me a vehicle to use to look for new recruits. Upon getting the vehicle with a driver, I went to the offices of walis in many wilayat*, starting from Samayil to Dhank. Luckily, we were able to recruit a large number in 1968.

During the same period an expert from the Towel Company came in a research mission on the migration of desert grasshoppers. As he asked for a companion from the army, I was given that role. Our mission continued for fifteen days. Equipped with guns and ammunition, accompanied by soldiers and provided with food and oil, we reached Maqshan in Dhofar in our Bedford van.

Though my leg pain didn’t quite leave me, especially when sitting down, I had to continue the journey. We then returned to Hema, where we saw a flock of deer. As hunting at that time wasn’t prohibited, we chased the deer and hunted one. It happened to be a female deer, a pregnant one, indeed. I recall when I fired, the bullet hit her belly, from which twin baby deer could be seen, and then she immediately died. At that moment, at that particular moment something hit me in my eye, I recall vividly.

We took the deer to Hema. It was such a rich meal for the others. I couldn’t take part though because of the pain I had in my eye at that night. Upon asking some of the Bedouin, we were told that if a hunter hit a female deer with a bullet his eye would automatically get injured. It was only when I applied salt and water to my eye that I felt the pain began to subside gradually.

*The plural form of “wilaya”, the Arabic word equivalent to “province” or “district” (the translator).

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