Tuesday, May 18, 2021 | Shawwal 5, 1442 H
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Like a true soldier in the battlefield


When a student sent a text message that she was injured in a car accident, I smiled and imagined her covered in bandages and plasters. I was glad she was not there to see me reading her messages. She would not have found it amusing.

I saw the funny side of it but in a very philosophical way. To reconcile with the wicked thought in my head, I quickly sent back a message telling her that she should see herself as a soldier in a battlefield advancing to the frontier.

Then my mind drifted further. There are many “wounded” soldiers in our daily routine who are braving on despite the odds. They take what life can throw to them and they march on bravely despite their pain. I am not talking about the physical injuries but the mental anguish and the scars left behind in their minds.

The battlefields of life can be fought in different arenas and in different disguises. No one is really spared. The noblemen have their own share and so are people on the lowest rungs of the social ladder.

A few months ago, I happened to be in one of the remotest villages in central Oman. They fight a different battle there on a different scale in comparison to the city. It all depends on the need and expectation. People in the villages just want three meals a day, but they do not really care about the trappings of life. They battle on with what little they have and are very grateful about it. The astonishing thing is that they do it with a smile on their faces.

I noticed one of them was on a wheelchair and he knew he would never walk again after he had a fall from the top of a palm tree. He also knew he would never work on his farm again. But was he really worried? Not really. He just changed the fighting weapons to fight another enemy but in the same battlefield. He dropped his spades and other digging tools to learn a complete new trade. He decided to go for basket and carpet weaving.

After I heard his story, I nearly gave him a standing ovation. I then watched him pick thick, colourful threads and place them in the weaving machine in front of him. With his left hand, he rotated the handle and started to spin the machine. With his right hand, he guided the threads very carefully through the spindles.

He was in complete control. The master of his own craft. As a matter of fact, the master of his second craft after his injuries prevented him from working on the field.

He was an injured soldier who refused to lick his wounds to become another war statistic. He got on with life without complain. To him, defeat is not in his vocabulary. But whether you are in a village or not, the enemy is common. You need to soldier on until the final call.

Here in the city, the magnitude of problems might be different because we think we have more to lose. If you lose your job, you would think you have lost your soul. I guess it has nothing to do with the income but pride. A wounded pride is sometimes more damaging to health than a stroke.

I guess most of the “injuries” are not seen but felt. The doctors have more chances to patch you up on an operation table.

They stand very little chance to correct your thoughts when things do not go right in your life.

So it remains that the soldier of life needs to win on two different frontiers to survive. Only those who accept the ups and downs of life on equal grace can win both battles. There is no argument about it.

Saleh Al-Shaibany


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