By Asmaa Talal
“This afternoon I have just come back from the funeral for my friend Ali and it made me think of the secret we all shared. Ali was my favorite friend from the days when we were pearl divers and our group of pearl divers was like a family. We would tell each other everything that we saw and how many pearls we had got in a day. I am the last one from that group. The rest, except for Rashed, have all died. Rashed was the youngest in our group. He had dreams of other places so he decided to travel to find a better life than this. We never saw him again. So you see, my grandson, now I am an old man with a story to tell. So please be patient and listen carefully my boy.
It all started one day when we were diving together off Al Marawah island. Ali found a small treasure chest. He didn’t touch it or open it but came and told us all about what he had found. We were very curious but we had heard stories of such treasures breaking up friendships. We decided to leave it in its place. It was a promise between us all that the last one alive would go to take the treasure. I am telling you my grandson because I am old and can no longer dive. I need you to help me. You will find at the north end of Al Marwah a grand willow tree with a trunk as wide as a well. On one side, you will see an X carved into the wood. Put this on your back and walk straight into the water. When the water is well above your head, this is the place of the treasure. Go my boy and Allah protect you.”
The young man did as he had been told. He was not a great diver but a good swimmer. It took him half the afternoon on a bright sunny day to find the treasure chest his grandfather had told him about. He sat on the beach and excitedly opened the old box. He was surprised to find only a large key and a note written on a piece of leather. A person had written ‘Whoever finds this is so lucky.’ On the back side was a map. There was a big red X.
The map showed him to go to a beach where the pearl divers used to tie their boats. On the left side of the beach was a large rock. The map showed the X on the backside of the rock. The grandson began digging in this spot. It took him the rest of the day digging in the spot to finally find a dirty, old treasure box.
His heart was beating fast as he fit the key into the lock. At first the lock didn’t open because the box had been buried in the sand for a long time. Patiently, he tried again and suddenly he heard a click. The box squeaked as he opened it. He couldn’t believe his eyes! The box was full of gold coins and beautiful pearls.
The grandson was a poor, young man, so with this treasure, he was able to pay his debts, get married and build a nice, comfortable house for himself and his grandfather next to a masjid and the ocean. He also decided to make a big museum of the pearl divers and their important part in the history of the UAE. In the museum, he included some pearls from the treasure, maps used by the pearl divers, their equipment and boats. Another popular part of the museum was where the children would pretend to find pearls buried in the sand. The grandson’s favorite part of the museum was where he would tell the children who came, stories of the old pearl divers.
The grandfather and grandson often wondered who had put the treasure on the beach and what was their story. The grandfather was sure it had been a pearl diver like himself and he thought that it was right that a pearl diver finally found and used the treasure.