A dying heritage [Archives:2007/1097/Opinion]

October 25 2007

By: Hassan Al-Haifi
Those of us Yemenis who had a chance to experience the life that existed in this country in pre-Revolution days and in the hectic and highly materialistic world that has now enveloped our lives have often looked at their rapidly changing surroundings in bewilderment and now often wonder what happened?

What happened to the peace of the land, when one could literally criss-crossed the country on foot and felt safe even if he was carrying a sac full of Maria Theresa thalers?

What happened to the serenity of the dawn hours, when the chirping birds and the crooning roosters were the only sounds one heard to as one admired the enchanting changing colors brought on by the slowly creeping blue sky and the sun rising above Jabal Nuqum to the East?

What happened to the hired shepherds roaming around the city of Sana'a to collect the herds of goats, sheep, cows and whatever livestock were keptt by the vast majority of the city dwellers, who still felt that living an urban life did not mean deprivation from the delight of drinking fresh warm milk every morning and evening?

What happened to the refreshing walks that most of the residents of Sana'a took up the Mountain of Jabal Nuqum to have a breathtaking view of the vast open landscape of greenery intertwining with the architecture of the city that was stretched westward below them?

What happened to the city dwellers, who used to realize that they must live in harmony with their natural surroundings and conserve as much as possible of the beauty that only God can create with his infinite wisdom and mercy – for the love of mankind?

What happened to the hearty smell of breakfast meals in the Suq of the finest foul modammas that anyone can have along with the fried liver or kebabs of all kinds eaten with freshly baked bread in the marketplace or at home with the household gathered around the stone plate that beckons one to eat and savor slowly for there is no worry about the meal getting cold?

What happened to all the friendly salutes that one receives from the exuberant faces one meets up with while proceeding to work, reflecting a full possession of this world and all the rights to the enjoyment of a happy peaceful life without the slightest of care as long as one is assured that the family has its sustenance needs fulfilled for the day and tomorrow's needs haven't even come to mind yet?

What happened to the great sound of the Noon Prayers coming from the circular balconies that beautifully decorated the center of the towering minarets that truly evidenced Sana'a to be a city of God fearing people, who knew that if one kept God in mind all the time, God is bound to reward with all the blessings of a peaceful and carefree happy life?

What happened to the feeling of security one senses in this city of peace, where people simply put up a piece of cloth to signify that the stores were closed for lunch or prayers? Similarly what happened to the sense of security that made the people of Sana'a keep the doors of their homes unlocked, even if they were not home, because they were sure that their neighbors guarded their neighbors' homes more than they would guard their own?

What happened to the many scholastic “rings”” that filled most of the bigger mosques of Sana'a where many of Sana'a's young men obtained their learning in poetry