A man with three reasons not to leave Bahrain
I used to have a stroll at the beautiful seaside corniche near Sitra Bridge allowing the winter breeze to inject chillness through myriads of pores on my face. Trust me, that is one of the best things you could do after a tire out toil at the work. I seldom go for a jogger’s stride to sweat and shape the muscles. It is like you are on a journey through the assuasive noise of the children, mind-bending chirps of the sparrows, the hushing rhythm of the waves, or even sometimes noisy pandemonium of loudmouthed family gatherings. Though it is a bit intrusive, I always loved to wake the pensive dreamers sitting on the park benches and strike a conversation with them. These conversations always fueled the rejuvenation of my perspective on many things.
The other day, I had such an opportunity to barge into an old man’s thoughts. He got my attention with that candid expression on his face and the red muffler coiled around his neck with the print ‘I love Bahrain’ on it. He resembled of Indian origin, probably an accountant or a clerk as he has ink stains on his worn shirt cuff. After the small talk, I entered into the typical questionnaire of my interrogation. I always have this set of questions handy to cathartically extract their thoughts during such unsolicited witters.
“Have you ever thought of leaving Bahrain for good?” Shot the first from the artillery.
“I did and once I left also” He replied with a wink. “It never lasted more than 3 months. See, my children are grown up now. They all are flown into different Diasporas. I know my residency here is just on the strength of an immigration sticker in the passport. But my heart is stuck to this wonderful archipelago. You know, there are three reasons I am not leaving this country until I am dead.”
“What are they?” I jumped in to quench the curiosity.
“Look at that family there” He pointed his fingers to a family sitting in the lush green garden bush with a large teapot and a fuming Sheeshah beside them. “Though they are in an open park they still have their privacy. Nobody stares at their ladies or poke their nose into their existence there. My wife used to say that this is the only country she can go out any time without the fear of some random strangers stalking her. The legal system, leaders, ordinary people, you name it, nobody will intrude in your life unless you do something wrong. Isn’t that a great thing?”
“Surely it is,” I admitted wholeheartedly.
“Second thing is religious tolerance” He added. “Though I am a Hindu living in an Islamic country, I never felt my faith and lifestyle is questioned anytime. I have temples to pray, community clubs to celebrate my religious festivals and no discrimination based on the god I pray. You can buy pork or alcohol from here if you want and nobody bothers about your lifestyle unless it is a social menace. They only look at what is right and wrong”.
I felt good in choosing him to talk. I saw a man offering ‘Salah’ under the palm tree with a lustrated and purified face.
“Third one is something personal” He has a rare and mysterious smile on his face. “It is my personal bond with my boss. He considers me as his son. You know, he sends a hotpot full of food for my lunch and dinner every day to my flat in Manama. Sometimes I feel ashamed to see his sons (some of them are high ranked officers in the Government services) driving all the way from Muharraq to bring my share of food from their home. How do I refuse such an affectionately patronized gesture? How can I leave this country rejecting the love it is pouring on me?
I could see the glitters of tears in his eyes. I thank the leaders and visionaries of this country for instilling such great values to the people of this country. I admire and respect the parents in Bahrain for fostering and nurturing those values through generations. Thus, keeping this country everyone’s favourite domicile.
(The author Adv. Jaleel Abdulla is an Educationalist and Motivational Speaker)
Adv. Jaleel Abdulla