A disorderly tale [Archives:2007/1050/Culture]

May 14 2007

By: Late Zaid Muttee Dammaj
Translated by: Shaker Al-Molsi

Deliberations between the two sides moved to another prestigious hall. My eyes roamed around the exquisite and luxurious hall, opening widely at the rare masterworks and scintillating chandeliers suspended from the ceiling.


Sitting face-to-face at the table, the arms of the two delegations were extended. I huddled myself among my colleagues to look on. The papers were still in front of them, at their hands, with pens still lying on the papers. The faces were cheerful and mouths were smiling. My goodness, happiness surely must come, that's certain.

I clasped my sweaty fingers. I was jubilant and proud because the head of my nation's delegation could convince our brothers tactfully. At this moment, final endorsement would be executed. It would be a fruitful accord bringing about welfare and prosperity. Many a road would be paved, many a city would be illuminated, many a school and hospital would be erected, many many


The two delegations consisted of high-profile figures, all of them ministers, and even their companions bore the title of “minister.” The luxurious hall where we were still attracted my attention, perhaps because it was my first time abroad. I was accustomed to our dim, humble and neglected halls, which tell visitors, “Leave, please.”

Soft, white hands prepared to take up pens. There was no talking, just wide smiles, some of them boring and artificial. The head of their delegation pulled himself up and looked at the head of our delegation sitting beside him, who became entirely happy and glad at this noble gesture.

Suddenly, the head of their delegation ordered photographers and cameramen exclusively from his nation's press and news agencies to be let in. A flood of dazzling yet confusing flashes of light overwhelmed the hall, as cameramen and photographers selected the best angles to shoot the head of their delegation, following his silent movements, while the head of our delegation gathered his saliva in order to wet his lips.

The cameramen and photographers left and silence prevailed in the hall – complete silence.

Suddenly, a sound snapped, deafening the ears and being amplified by the echo of the luxurious hall.

It was a fart, whose stink reached the nearby attendees. I perceived that the face of their delegation's head displayed confusion mixed with embarrassment and anger.

To my horror, a laugh burst from a fellow delegate like a bomb. He couldn't hold it back because he hadn't expected it. He had tried to suppress it, but in vain. He rushed out of the hall, which echoed his suppressed laughs. Some of the attendees involuntarily joined him A solemn moment of silence prevailed, during which I and some others tried to busy ourselves – with anything.

The session ended after the head of their delegation left with quick steps, surrounded by a retinue and bodyguards nd the members of his delegation. None remained in the hall except the head of our delegation, his fellow delegates and companions. The lights were turned off and the papers remained blank in front of them.


The next morning, the situation grew critical and the press, radio and TV had no news about the important meeting.

At the end of the day, the members of our delegation were seen at the airport, shading themselves under the wings of an old airplane as they prepared for departure.


The BBC quoted a variety of news reported by its correspondents about the release of mutual accusations between the two brotherly nations.


The news broadcast by the BBC developed, as it reported a severe crisis between the two countries. Diplomatic ties between them were cut; however, the BBC did not explain the reason.


An important BBC news story reported that the borders between the two brotherly countries had been closed and according to the BBC, only foreign newspapers featured photos of both sides' diplomatic missions, homeward-bound well before the completion of their set terms.

The BBC commented that, with apparent wounds and heavy bleeding, it seemed from the photos that officers from both embassies were assaulted somehow. A BBC correspondent observed a member of our mission with his clothes torn and blood flowing heavily from his left eyebrow, while his wife and children were in a poor psychological state.


Events developed, with the BBC reporting conflicting news about the eruption of border clashes between the two countries, each party accused the other of their initiation.


The situation exacerbated to the point where the UN. secretary-general dispatched a mission to deliver urgent letters appealing to the two brotherly nations to exercise self-control and hold peaceful negotiations under U.N. auspices.


The BBC recently quoted its regional correspondents as saying that airports in both nations indeed had been shut down and lights had gone out in all cities and villages. They later reported that the U.S. had begun evacuating its nationals from the region aboard its giant airliners.


I switched off the radio and went out into the street to look for my fellow delegate who had been unable to control himself in the face of laughter.

Kuwait, Feb. 15, 1981

Zaid Muttee Dammaj was Yemen's foremost novelist and short story writer, having authored Yemen's most famous novel, “The Hostage.”