As a child growing up in the 80s, I always heard the adults calling us: the lucky generation. It was hard for my infantile mind to grasp fully the reason behind this nickname. But it definitely had to do with the childhood memories that the elders always shared with me that varied from dark (dad’s stories) to nearly-nightmarish (grandma’s ones). It was hard to understand a childhood so different from mine, one that had no electricity, snacks or toys! The Oman that they spoke about was so foreign to me.
A barren place where grandma was lucky enough to learn to read the Quran and where my dad travelled for three hours to reach from Muscat to Seeb (using the beach route as there were no roads and changing the tire’s pressure several times). To them, everything was either before 1970 or after 1970 when His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said came to reign. Mom’s memories were easier to digest. Living in Bahrain, they had access to toys and Cadbury Dairy Milk (a bar was shared by four siblings after being divided equally using a ruler!). Their stories never left a room for us to complain about a thing as dad always had a comment ready. For example: If a family member delivered a baby, he’d remember his ten siblings who were delivered at home or the women in his neighbourhood who’d died after delivery.
Whenever we suffered from any sort of illness, dad would remember the times he had the Malaria. Even worst, he and mom would debate the number of shots that they had to take to combat it (and all I wanted was a bit of empathy!). As I grew older, I started appreciating dad’s tales especially the ones that had to do with his education journey. While I moved smoothly from one stage to another at school, dad had to travel all the way from Muscat to Kuwait via ships to continue his middle and high school education. He later moved to Cairo for five years to continue his university studies, never returning back once (something to be reminded of constantly when coming back for Christmas holidays years later!). These stories were no different than the ones shared by my friends at school.
I heard many narratives of other Omani families living abroad from Kenya to Pakistan before 1970. Now, after years of studying abroad and travelling around the world, I fully understood what being from the lucky generation meant. I come from a country where women and men have equal rights (and at times women are more privileged!). I come from a multicultural country where many spoke different languages at home, yet everyone is bound by a shared history, language and religion. We don’t need a “sense of community” that many countries promote to bind their multicultural citizens with. I come from a country where all religions are respected and different faiths are practiced freely. I come from a country where expats are welcomed and never get to learn Arabic as many Omanis seize the opportunity to practice their English with. I come from a safe and a peaceful country where hatred crimes are never heard of. All of this was never possible if it wasn’t for His Majesty Sultan Qaboos’s (may God rest his soul in peace) wise leadership and vision. We’re the generation who’ll always appreciate and carry on being who we are. A proud nation following in the footsteps of our beloved father of our modern Oman, till the end of time.
Rasha al Raisi is a certified skills
trainer and the author of:
The World According to Bahja. firstname.lastname@example.org