Bread and 911 [Archives:2005/855/Community]

June 30 2005

By Lamya zain
[email protected]

A night out on New Year's in the capital was not simply nice dinner and a drive around the city as I though. Apparently you never know if the “fun” night has other plans.

Mood wasn't set to celebration to start with. The news of the price-doubling of all goods, oil and taxes has hit a couple of days ago as the parliament decided this is the only possible solution for the 4th over-due dose of the World Bank & IMF debts.

So hey, Yemenis, if you're poor, cheer up! You're about to get even poorer!

Tension was in the air as we drove in the jam. Car pumps on a web of holes in the concrete and aunt curses and shouts of how bad street lights cause her to fix her car for a double price. Like the holes were avoidable.

Long minutes of silence at every red light. Hundreds of children of all ages rush towards cars trying to sell something. Anything you think of, you could buy at the red light's starting from irons and cooking pots to mobile devices and woolen hats.

I open the window to call one of the kids selling cassettes. The cold breeze enters violently and while both aunts blame me for letting the cold in, I ask the kid in the worn-out T-shirt if he has the latest record of my favorite singer. “Of course!” He pops it up out of his bag with a big smile. I hand him a hundred-Rial bill and quickly roll the window up as other kids gather thinking I'd want to buy things from them too.

We leave the restaurant after the less-than-ordinary dinner and an argument with our impolite waiter and run towards the car seeking some warmth.

Silence among the three of us in the car made me think some music would help. And just as I was working my new cassette in the recorder I looked out the window and saw what left me motionless.

“What's wrong?”

“I don't want to talk about it!”

I reply and put the cassette in my purse.

I've heard about it and even avoided that street especially not to see it and get a heartburn. But there is was, the Porsche dealership where the 2005 models shine under the silver lights of the show room.

Next red light I couldn't look up. I couldn't bear looking at those hungry kids with their bags of goods on their crooked backs and ragged clothes.

Blood rushed into my head as I thought of how these children work all day in the freezing cold only to afford buying bread for their families while others who enjoyed the warmth of their mansions could afford buying the newest model of Porsche 911 without even one minute of hard work.

Sorry kids, but you will only get to take half of that bread home at the end of the day tomorrow.

Congratulations Sir, you can drive your brand new 911 tomorrow – still on the same pumpy roads.

And they say no one knows what tomorrow brings!

I lock myself in my bedroom and find a couple of Panadol tablets and wish I had never decided to get out of my “depression phase” and went out.

Oh beautiful Sana'a, so full of diversity, I feel ashamed that I swallow the words and keep silence like all your people. We have been turning the other cheek for as long as I can remember that it seems we have thousands of them.

I believe we'd be glad to pay back the World Bank & IMF on the expense of our basic necessities if these big debts had provided us with better schools and decent health services instead of sports cars and villas for the hotshots.

But our content comes last. We will pay back anyway. After all, this IS the present we got for 2005!

One goes out for a breath of fresh air and ends up suffocating..

Happy New Year Yemen!