‘The bench of the white man’ on Masirah Island gives an enchanting view of the ocean. Sonia Ambrosio makes a hunch about the magic and mystery that surround the bench
A wooden bench with scribbles of love and hearts stand on a small hill from where one can be surrounded by stretches of beaches, white sand, and emptiness. The people of Masirah Island know well the spot. Tourists make it a point to visit the place to take photos.
Folk stories tell about ‘the bench of the white man’, a landmark some 85km south of the city centre, Ras Hilf. It is believed that a European (Englishman) — who probably worked on the island — loved the place and used to go to sit there. The location gives an open view of the ocean; the eyes can get lost on the horizon of one of the most dangerous navigation corners off Oman.
I ask Tahil and Faisal, my friends from Masirah, what they knew about the bench and the white man. I try to make sense of disconnecting information on ships sinking off Masirah waters. Probably the man would go there to pray for the souls of the ‘World Jury’ tanker that sank in 1961; that would make sense. No. That was not the case as no lives were lost. The crew was rescued by British navy ship HMS Llandaff before Jury broke up.
Tahil doesn’t believe that whoever built the bench had anything to do with the sinking of World Jury. For him, writers and editors can imagine many reasons for the existence of the bench; but he adds fuel to the speculations saying the white man probably would have gone there with his wife or girlfriend and when she left or they left he kept a good memory of the place.
The bench is at the very south of the island, and that is as far as one can drive. It’s worth a visit.