Muscat, Feb 22 – The reassuring radiance of the morning. Quite overwhelming. Lt Col (retd) Hassan Abdul Redha al Shalwani (pictured) stood in front of the grand Bait al Baraka Palace. It was not yet 4:00 am on February 19. But more than the blooming effulgence of the dawn, it was the memories of the late His Majesty Sultan Qaboos that were flooding his mind. Now it’s 4:00 am and his eyes turned moist. It was the same time when the official news about the death of His Majesty’s death was announced on January 11. In fact, Hassan Shalwani had a premonition a few months before that something terrible was going to happen to the Sultanate… And on hearing the bad news he just felt completely frozen.
“How can I accept it?” he asked himself at that moment. The images of the late His Majesty went through his mind like an unending procession… a visionary ruler who was a friend and guide to every single citizen of the Sultanate. A true leader who magically transformed a country that had nothing much to boast of into a great and prosperous land of immense opportunities; a land where everyone was empowered to realise his/her dreams… A gem of a human being who stood for peace and harmony among people, and who strived his best to resolve conflicts of all kinds. It has been 40 days since His Majesty passed away. The 40-day mourning period has ended. And now Hassan Shalwani, aged 52, looked at his watch. It is 4.01 am. He looked ahead… and started walking.
It was his way of paying his humble tributes to the ever-living memory of the late His Majesty. A lone journey aimed at feeling the soil, soaking in the sunshine and breeze and silently communicating with the flora and fauna of a great land that had been nurtured with the love of the late His Majesty. He firmly believes that “we could not repay even one per cent of what the late His Majesty did for us and the country’’.
The first phase of his walk covered a distance of some 37km, ending at the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque. He prayed there with a heavy heart: for the late leader, for the Sultanate and its people, for a great future. And interacted with the people there, before proceeding to the Royal Cemetery in Ghala where His Majesty Sultan Qaboos was laid to rest. It was nearly 3.00 pm in the afternoon by then.
He spent almost half-an-hour there, and turned back. Amidst the unbearable grief, though, he could feel a wave of positive vibes. “This country, the jewel of the Arabian Peninsula, the land of Sindbad, will continue to march ahead with great glory…,” a divine voice whispered in his ears.
This is not the first time Hassan Shalwani, who served at the Royal Oman Police for 27 years and retired as a Lt Col, walked alone for a cause. On the occasion of the 40th National Day of Oman he set out on foot starting from the Al Alam Palace in old Muscat at the stroke of midnight and ending his journey at the Bait Al Baraka Palace at around 4 in the evening. It was for the well-being of the late His Majesty, and a great future for the Sultanate. Again, when the late His Majesty returned from Germany after medical treatment, he undertook another walk — for the good health of His Majesty, this time starting from the Royal Opera House Muscat and finishing at the Bait al Baraka Palace.
SARNGA DHARAN NAMBIAR