Mus’id & Mus’idaGat [Archives:2003/630/Last Page]

April 7 2003

Written by Abdulrahman Mutahhar
Translated by Janet Watson

Ma – Mus'id, since you're the one who got your sons hooked on gat, it's you who'll have to feed their habit and supply their gat! It's a real battle to give up an engrained habit!
M – I no longer know who I'm battling with and who's on my side!
Ma – If your pocket's full, it's on your side; and if your pocket's empty, you can't even bank on your children being on your side!
M – What a philosopher you've become! There are no flies on you! And all this time I'd thought you were an innocent!
Ma – I know nothing about philosophy, but I'll tell you one thing! The only innocent around here is you! You get your sons hooked on gat, and now that they're hooked you go and attack them because they still chew! There's no point, Mus'id!
M – It's not up to me to supply them with gat so they can chew. I'm only supposed to supply them with food!
Ma – Why didn't you just leave it at that, then? What on earth made you get them addicted to gat?
M – It's your fault, Mus'ida! You're the one who made them addicted!
Ma – Stop trying to shift the blame and run away from the facts! If you don't, you lay down your gun and I'll lay down mine and we'll sort this out in a proper tribal manner.
M – What good would that do? I've already sold my gun to pay for your sons' gat; and you haven't got a gun, and wouldn't even know how to fire one if you had!
Ma – So now what should we do? You'd better have a look around for things to sell or pawn. You're sons are totally hooked. They don't seem to have any purpose in life other than their bag with gat. 'They dropped me in the sea of passion and left me, though my robe measured no more than a yard.' And Mus'id, with no skill whatsoever, manages to get his sons addicted to gat when their robes are no more than half a yard long!
M – Mus'ida!
Ma – Now what?
M – I went over to see my uncle and complained to him about my sons. I told him that they weren't studying properly and they wouldn't stay at home. I'd started to worry about them wandering about the streets and in the souk. He told me that the only thing which would keep them at home and help them to study was gat. He said, 'Give them a little gat to stop them wandering around the souk!' I had absolutely no idea, Mus'ida, that they'd become so addicted they'd start looking around for things to sell and pawn!
Ma – Fine! It's your mess, you sort it out! I want nothing to do with it! I'm telling you, your sons are interested in nothing but their bag of gat even if it means them sleeping on the streets!
M – So what should I do? I've tried all possible ways to convince them of the harmful effects of gat, in terms of money, health, particularly the effect on the family's income, and the pure waste of time.
Ma – What did they say when you told them all that?
M – Oh stop will you! You don't want to know!
Ma – Why don't I want to know?
M – They said, 'We'll give up chewing the moment you and the other fathers give up, Dad! It's not right for you to continue chewing gat when we can't!'
Ma – Did they really say that to you, or are you making it up?
M – Why on earth should I make it up? They also told me that the taste and effect of gat was so cool that once you've tasted it you'll go back for more!
Ma – Some of the cool effects of gat show when you see your toes sticking out of your shoes. You can't buy another pair because of the gat! Then the safe door's broken, and the windows are smashed, and the telephone's been cut off and they're about to stop the line altogether. We only ever buy chicken when we know someone's coming for lunch so that they don't go around saying we don't eat anything as a result of gat!
M – Mus'ida!
Ma – What is it now?
M – Don't shout at me and don't go around clucking like a mother hen. At first, I was the only gat addict. Then I let my sons try it and now there are five of us. Whatever money we have we use for the bus or a motorbike to go straight to the gat souk. Don't you see, Mus'ida? All the valleys and fields and farmland has been set aside for gat. The amount of gat brought from the countryside to the towns increases at the same rate as the amount of land set aside for gat. The main economic and social activity takes place in the gat souk. You'll find everyone at the gat souk – from grandfathers and fathers down to grandsons once they've reached the age of fifteen. And I'll tell you this, Mus'ida, the gat problem won't go away until God brings in a generation which is absolutely convinced of the harmful effects of gat, and then uproots the gat bushes which themselves uprooted the coffee trees and all the fruit trees we used to have!
i.e. when I am still a child.