The Omani writer Zahran Al Qasimi was able, in his novel “The Westernization of the Qafar”, in a sober and poetic language, mixed with some colloquial dialogues, to convey the reader to the rural Omani environment that he took as the scene of the events of his novel. The characters, in a way that makes the reader feel, while following this individual alienation, that he is thirsty, hungry, cold, and grieving with (Al-Qafir) Salem bin Abdullah and the people of his village (Al-Misfah), in their homes, valleys, and farms. Here we find this beautiful description of the author about the floods of Oman and what they do to the simple villagers: “The sun rises slightly and reaches the top of the mountains. A dark gray cloud creeps towards it from the south, not very large, but sufficient to obscure the sunlight. The wind gets colder and becomes wet as if it is loaded with water.” cold. Summer suddenly turns into a harsh winter, cold winds roar in the alleys and between the mountains, so people flee to their homes to take refuge in them, but the wind is strong, and some palm trees fall and the branches of large trees break, and the roofs of houses almost fall on their occupants. The world gets dark, fog descends on the tops of the mountains, and rain begins to fall heavily, as if the sky has poured itself over the village. The torrents wash away the orchards, dissolve the walls of the mud houses, and the roofs fall off, and people flee with their belongings and food to the caves of the mountains and take refuge in the large caves for several days, and they stay there watching the water as it floods the town and takes everything in its path, so that their homes become a trace after an eye.
In an Omani village brimming with exoticism, especially the tense relationship with nature and dealing with water as the secret word of life, losing it means drought and destruction of crops and udders, while increasing it means floods and drowning of humans and animals, and demolition of those who cross its path.
The events of the story begin with the drowning of (Maryam bint Hamad and Wad Ghanem) in a well and she dies. The sound of water in the ground. From this simple event, the novel “The Deserter’s Alienation” is composed of a wondrous world in which the real and the mythical intertwine. The plight of the Omani villages dates back to the time of drought, and the construction of the falaj and the methods of dividing it. (And the falaj: an agricultural system for irrigating orchards, closely linked to village life in Oman and some Gulf countries, around which stories and legends revolved).-
Salem bin Abdullah (the main character)’s organic relationship with water turns into a legend, which resonates on the tongues of the villagers, represented in the ability to know the places of water in the ground and the sources of the aflaj. The country was revived by the glow of the nascent myth, and they surrounded it with more stories, some of which are related to the truth, albeit in part, and some of them are pure fiction, especially with regard to the relationship with the jinn. “The news spread, like a fire when it happens that it starts from a spark in a pile of fibers, then a light breeze takes the sparks to the trees and other plants, and in a short moment of time the place glows with the fire, so it does not remain or leave.” And there are those who accused him of witchcraft; And they said he will grow up and enchant the old before the young.
So it is the story of a water tracker, who is used by villages in their search for underground water sources. Thus, the life of a caravan arises from his birth linked to water, so his mother died by drowning, and his father was buried under the canal of one of the aflaj, until his last exile. “Everything is missing, the people and the country, the news of those we knew and their stories. Everything is missing, and we only have pain.” “He felt a hole in his soul, a hole in the middle of his body between his chest and stomach, a big hole as if it were a window through which he could see what was behind him.”