Friends in teenage years [Archives:2002/48/Last Page]

November 25 2002

Written by Abdulrahman Mutahhar
Translated by Janet Watson
M – Now tell me, Mus’ida, did you go to the market to buy the chicken and vegetables for lunch, or did you go to check the state of the street and watch other people as they went about their business?
Ma – I just went to buy the shopping. I haven’t any interest in other people, and they haven’t any interest in me. Don’t you go looking for things to complain about!
M – But what I heard is unbelievable!
Ma – Let us seek refuge in God from all the devils! What on earth did you hear?
M – How can you let yourself talk about someone else’s son?
Ma – And just who is this someone else’s son I’ve been talking about?
M – Your son’s friend.
Ma – Why should I want to talk about someone who’s still got the mind of a child? What would make me want to talk about him? But I’ll tell you what. When I came back from the market I found him waiting by the door in a Toyota land cruiser, and he said he was waiting for my son.
M – But Mus’ida, how on earth did our son get to know someone with a Toyota land cruiser, when all his other friends have nothing but second-hand bicycles and torn boots?
Ma – I must admit, I was rather surprised, too, when he opened the car door and came out wearing a pistol on his right hip, a pager on his left, and a mobile phone strung around his neck! The only thing missing was a lollypop stuck in his mouth then he would have had all the gadgets and appliances anyone could ask for!
M – Look, that’s nothing to do with us. We’re not responsible for how other people behave or their stupidity, just get that into your head!
Ma – However, I am responsible for my son. When I saw the pistol on the lad’s hip and a car that was bigger than him and more than he could manage, I was concerned about my son. Don’t you know how dangerous guns and cars are in the hands of adolescents, Mus’id?
M – Of course I do! The one thing which worries people most is weapons, cars and satellite television in the hands of adolescent boys.
Ma – Exactly! When I saw that boy with all those gadgets I reckoned I had the measure of him. I told him my son wasn’t at home, he’d gone to the village to buy things for his father. He asked me the name of our village, so I told him Bayt Alal. He then asked where Bayt Alal was, and I told him next to Bayt al-Rabu’i. He asked how long ago it was since he’d left. I told him about half an hour. Then he asked what he’d gone to fetch, and I told him he’d gone to fetch stalks and hay for the calf we were fattening for Eid Arafah. Then he asked me what hay was, and I said it was like popcorn. He said, ‘When your son comes back, ask him to leave me some hay to try.’ I said I’d leave him some hay, and he could go and share it with the calf!
M – Oh Mus’ida! Why did you make fun of the poor boy like that! You’re normally so considerate! It’s not right, and you know how you should behave!
Ma – Oh yes! Now tell me who exactly is making fun of the lad, will you! Me who answers his questions, or his parents who obviously don’t care less – giving him a pistol and a car, both dangerous weapons and either of which could kill! Also, I’m concerned about my son. The Yemeni proverb goes, ‘He who gets near to the furnace will either get burnt or be covered in soot.’1
M – Weapons and cars in the hands of adolescents are a danger to society as a whole. As the proverb goes, ‘Calamaties come at the end of the night’.2
Ma – It isn’t calamities at the end of the night that bother me. May God protect us from all evils! I’m talking to you about calamities which happen slap bang in the middle of the day! Sensible people, my dearest, make sure they provide their children with as much learning and culture as possible, to open their minds and raise their sense of awareness, and to embed in them a sense of higher principles and values. We, on the other hand, provide our children with the means to kill and be killed. And we let them to be ignorant, snobbish, conceited and reckless, and tell them they can have whatever they want. The Yemeni proverb goes, ‘Stupid people are contented, and a wayward child will cause you distress’.3
1 Al-Akwa’, p. 1259.
2 Al-Akwa’, p. 31.
3 Al-Akwa’, p. 40.