In a popular coffee shop in Muscat, a group of retired gentlemen meet every morning to while away the time. The subjects they talk about range from international current affairs, financial and all the way to the days they were active during their careers.
To cover as much time as possible during the 24-hours of the day, they also meet in the late afternoon at the beach where you would see them seated on potable chairs around a table full of food and beverages.
Photo - Saleh Al-Shaibany
Sometimes, I join them to their easy flowing conversation. There will be a lot of jokes and reminiscences of the past. However, at times, the topics would touch sensitive issues, which would lead to heated debates. But they all accepted that it was part of their get-together in the twilight of their time.
What is interesting about this group, is that they all come from different backgrounds but what keeps them together, is what their share with their present lives. The future is never in their daily topic since they take one day at a time. I guess, at the prime time of their lives, there is nothing in the future to be concerned about, no matter where the dice fall.
What I notice on the occasional few minutes I spend with them, they are all tolerant to each other when the chips land on the wrong place. It is not uncommon that one of them would lose his temper just because the other person said the wrong thing. The offended person would just simply walk away, instead of causing a scene.
But that will not last long because in the midst of their group, there will always be that person who would step in to act the role of a peacemaker. But that’s not all. I also notice that, even the most tranquil person of the group, will have his bad day and would start offloading his personal miseries. The rest would start to listen and sympathise with him.
In other words, the same members of the group also act as therapists to each other when personal stress hits the roofs of their heads in their private lives. While they have a common target of meeting regularly, they all had different lifestyles in their younger days. I often had to listen, with great interest, when they talk about their past.
One of them was a great nuisance to the public peace when he was a teenager while the other did not tolerate professional incompetence at work. There are others who just went with the flow of times no matter what was thrown to them. They always share these experiences and compare themselves with the new generations.
But they acknowledge that times are different and contemporary problems do not match and never comparable by any account. Do they have regrets? I am not sure of that, but if they have then they do not seem to show it. Like the waves of the sea where they sit every afternoon, their emotions crash on the sands of their past lives.
Isn’t that what life is all about? We commit mistakes in our younger days but try our hardest to rectify them as we march forward to the old age. There is no room for regret when one has covered most tracks of life knowing that there are fewer ahead.