Short Story The Confession [Archives:2003/01/Culture]

January 6 2003

By Abdullah Salem Bawazir*
Translated by Younes Hasson Ebrahim
A few minutes after his arrest, the news of the detention of the government director was the talk of the street. Circulated news in the street pointed out the reason behind his arrest was he was a dangerous spy for foreign – American – imperialism. Others related that he was a secret agent for Israel. Many other statements also supported the fact that he was a traitor to land and home.
Then his interrogation started. The investigator asked him: “Now it is clear to us from your sayings that you had committed a great crime and had done harmful deeds against your country. We first want to know for what foreign power you are working.” The accused kept silent and did not reply. The investigator urged him to talk by saying: “Speak up…Answer…Were you working for the Americans, for the reactionary power, or for whom?
The accused still kept silent. Suddenly, the investigator rose angrily from his seat and brutally slapped the accused on his face.
Overwhelmed by this action, the accused seemed to yield while clearing the blood off his nose and mouth and said: “I shall speak. But I won’t mention for whom I am working for because this will not be of use for you at all. I shall suffice to mention the deeds, which I was appointed to do against this country.”
Satisfied with this response, the investigator went back to his seat saying, “Good. Speak up! Were you assigned to devastate the economy?”-No.
-To blow up public establishments?
-To supply the enemies with sensitive military information?
-To assassinates the great figures of the state?
The investigator returned to his anger saying: “Then what were those deeds? Speak up!”
The accused kept silent.
The investigator threatened the suspect again by maintaining his anger and demanded he speak up, or else.
-Come on! Speak up or we will compel you to do so!
The accused tries to stop his wounds from bleeding and says: Enough! There is no need for more…I shall speak…I shall confess…
The senses of the investigator and his assistants concentrated on hearing the dangerous and critical confession.
Then the accused starts his long-awaited confession in a calm manner:
“The devastating deeds, which I was ordered to do by taking advantage of my post as the administrator of a large government establishment, are divided into two parts. The first part is concerned with the treatment of the administration to the citizens who are connected to the establishment with vital interests and trying to have their paperwork done.
I used to issue my unjust resolutions towards them. The work that needed one day, I would have it done in one week. I tended to frustrate and exhaust them by having them come and go all the time and by forcing them to walk through the corridors of the establishment and go up the stairs and down again. I also burdened them with a variety of unjust and extra fines. And whenever I see these measures of mine become easy for them to handle, I tighten the grip further by applying more frustrating measures on them until they feel the pressure of my unjust conditions on them and breakdown. This way I would make sure that they hated their lives and the government that appointed me in my position and that gave me mastery over them.
Then the accused resumed his silence, triggering the investigator to ask:
-And the second part?
The accused replies:
-The second part is regarding the cadres who work with me in the establishment. Many of them had high degrees and were honest and scientifically competent. They included expert engineers, doctors and others with previous experiences in the establishment. I used to place all sorts of obstacles and hurdles in front of them to make them flee away from work. I surrounded them with ignorant and inefficient people. I also made sure they would be under the command of the instructions of the ignorant. I tightened the grip on them so that none of them would be able to bear his work or stay even for one full working day. In this way, they would immigrate one after the other out of the country – causing a brain drain. The accused stopped and asked the investigator:
– Do you want more?
And the investigator replied:
– No …this is enough. Is their devastation more than what you have mentioned? Take him and bring the other.
After two days of investigation, the formerly accused director returned again to his original post…
*Mr. Bawazir is a well-known Yemeni short story writer. He wrote many short stories and published them in books, such as: The ship of Noah, The Golden sands, The shoes, The Volcanoes’ Revolution and the Downfall of a woodpecker. This story, “the confession” is taken from the latter book.
Recently he had published his autobiography in a book titled “Regaining Missing Time.” In his short stories, Mr. Bawazir treats political, economic and social problems that face Yemeni people.
He applies mockery in his writing about these problems, as observed in “The Confession”.