As the light faded away

As I relaxed stretching my feet on a bench, a stray dog walked past me. It stopped 10 feet away, turned and looked at me curiously.

By Akif Abdulamir (Desert Classics)

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Published: Sat 30 Oct 2010, 9:55 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 8:43 AM

For the next 10 seconds, man and dog stared at each other in a fixed gaze. He then wagged his tail and continued walking, dismissing me altogether as if I was a vagrant.

Animals too can be snobbish and choosy. But I was not there as a passing curiosity. I was mentally exhausted, though my body wanted to walk another kilometre.

As the sun slowly descended behind the distant mountains, shadows of trees became longer and fainter. The light of the day was fading as the sky painted patches of crimson on the clouds.

The sea tide was fast receding and I spotted an old fisherman desperately trying to mount an outboard engine on his boat. He looked behind him for his young partner for help.

The partner was walking away from him.

The strong breeze swept away the fisherman’s call, bouncing on the waves, wasting away on the choppy waters.

The man gave up and left the engine on the beach. I saw him bending, gathering his belongings as his white beard twisted in the wind. He gave me a disapproving look. As he walked past me, he dropped his wallet on the pavement. I could have had my revenge. But instead, I got up, picked the stuffed wallet and gave him a shout.

Embarrassed, he walked back, took it gratefully and gave me a toothless grin.

It was his way of saying thank you. I suppose fishermen don’t talk much. They do it through gestures.

I watched him walking out of my line of sight, disappearing in the growing shadows. I went back to my bench and sat there long enough for the streetlights to come on. The same dog returned, but this time with a partner, walking in the opposite direction.

This time, the animal completely ignored me. His attention was on the partner next to him.

I decided to leave, but I could not make up my mind whether to go home or continue with my walk. In the semi-darkness, I saw a cloud of seagulls flew from the beach, some half a kilometre away, to the sky. They were making their routine flight to the mountains for their night roost.

They made up my mind for me to go back home. As I was crossing the road, a young couple caught my attention. They were strolling hand in hand, giggling.

An amusing thought entered my mind. A stupid dog had found its partner and even seagulls were in a flock, but I was alone in the streets.

It was at that instant, as chance would have it, that my wife called to inquire about my lateness. I assured her I was walking home even as I was talking to her.

It was dark when I was entering the gate of my house. The cat, which fouls up my garden on a regular basis, was sitting in the wheelbarrow, looking at me defiantly. She snarled at me, as if daring me to shoo her away.

My wife opened the door and joined me.

“Oh, leave it alone,” she said. “The poor cat is pregnant.”

I was about to ask her how on earth she knew that. But I kept my mouth shut. I guess it was because of her maternal instinct. Instead, I said to her, “I wonder who the father is?”

“Who cares?” she said and pulled me inside the house. “You should care who the father of the lot in this house is.”

Akif Abdulamir is an Oman-based writer

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