Short story:The Hidden Depression (part 2 of 2) [Archives:2006/913/Culture]

January 19 2006

By: Salwa Yehia Al-Eryani

The Third Day

We thought Fun City might be a better place. It is more organized and people are fewer. Ticket prices are not cheap; therefore, people there are mostly those who have been abroad and know how one should behave in amusement parks and respect others. We all feel comfortable at Fun City. New games are always added and queues are arranged. Truthfully, what happened there was just a matter of bad luck. I wanted to write about it only to raise a topic for further discussion.

After our kids had fun playing several rounds of their favorite games, I lost my sister with whom I had come. I looked, but didn't find her. I called her on my mobile, but she didn't answer. She probably was either fighting with the kids to persuade them it was time to go or couldn't hear the mobile ringing due to the high volume of music playing. I remember it was Nancy Ajram's “Ah Wa Nos.” I turned sideways to put the mobile in my handbag and at the same minute, I saw two of my friend. I hadn't seen them since university. We hugged each other warmly and asked about each other' lives.

I thought afterwards that in that moment, I hadn't put the mobile in my bag, but that it slipped outside the bag and fell on the floor. I couldn't hear it fall on the floor because of “Ah Wa Nos.” Also, the kids around me were making an enormous racket, in addition to the laughter and shouts. After I left them, I found my sister. We walked toward the door to leave when I remembered my mobile. I looked, but couldn't find it. I threw my entire bag's contents on the floor, but found no mobile. I was so frustrated. We called my mobile using my sister's mobile, but no one answered, so we thought it still was on the floor somewhere. I went to the same place I'd met my friends, but didn't find it. I asked all the boys continually sweeping the floor. They smiled and said they didn't see anything.

We called my number again but this time, it was turned off, so we expected someone took it. We kept calling, but it was no use. I remembered my mobile's welcome note was “In Allah We Trust,” so maybe when the person opened the mobile and read this note, he would feel guilty and give me back my mobile. I sent a message from my sister's mobile saying, “Please call this number ++++. When you return the mobile, you will be rewarded an amount of money that will please you. Don't take what isn't yours. It is forbidden. The forbidden is punished through your health.” As you may expect, I received no answer. People no longer fear what is forbidden or what doesn't belong to them. Or maybe people's health already is dreadful and stealing cannot make it any worse. At the Fun City entrance, I left a note to call my husband's number if anyone finds my mobile.

We left and all the pleasure I had felt left me. I sighed and sighed, remembering how many numbers I had lost. I also was thinking how I can get new mobile. Honestly, I was hurt. In the car, we discussed why people lose their mobiles a lot. We decided it was a matter of bad luck or life's stresses that make people lose their concentration. Yet, what we couldn't explain was why people no longer fear the results of stealing others' belongings. Why don't people feel guilty when they steal? Why don't they care about punishment from Allah, from whom they know they can't escape, no matter where they hide? This is what I wanted to raise as a discussion topic.

The Final Day

We had had enough of Eid in Sana'a. The previous days made us feel, without any exaggeration, deeply depressed. We decided to go to Aden and enjoy the sun and sea. The next day, we were there. I was sitting on the beach watching my kids play and swim. I enjoyed myself simply seeing them enjoy themselves. My youngest son wasn't in the water but was building a sandcastle. I sighed, “Now this is real relaxation.”

Suddenly, I saw a lady in black coming near my son. A young man followed her holding a small icebox. She was getting closer and closer to my son. She looked like a black fog. All of a sudden, I saw her grab my son. The young man behind her opened his box and gave her something that she tried to put in my son's mouth. My son was screaming and kicking.

I was so shocked that I didn't run to see what was happening to him until it seemed maybe a few minutes had passed. I was trying to determine whether it was a black fog or a nightmare or what. I ran to them and yelled at the woman, “Hey, what do you think you're doing?” She simply said she was giving him the vaccination for infantile paralysis. I lost my temper and shouted, “And do you just grab kids like that without asking them where their parents are? Without asking whether they just took this vaccination a few days ago or not? Without asking their names or who are the adults they came with?” My son was crying behind me. The woman answered that this was her duty and that any child under age 5 must take it. I agreed, but asked her to be sensible in implementing it. I looked sadly at my son's sandcastle. It was destroyed. He had crushed it while trying to escape this 'angel.'

We left the sun and sea to return to the hotel. The kids were very hungry, so we decided to eat in the hotel. We ordered fish, beefsteak, rice and French fries. An hour later, we all were vomiting and suffering diarrhea. It was very bad food poisoning. This lasted about a day and half, during which we spent the time in bed and in the toilet. The next day, as soon as we felt a little better, we got in the car and went back to Sana'a.

I am positive that the location is not the problem. We have a wonderful land and moderate weather. Our problem is the people in Yemen.