Teach your children well [Archives:2007/1034/Opinion]

March 19 2007

“What can I teach my children that the school has not taught them” grumbled Yasmine to her husband, who was trying to take a nap, but somehow the cat refused to stop wagging his tail near his ear.

“You can teach them never to try to take a nap next to a spoiled cat, that is what you can teach them. They will never learn that in school. But in here they will graduate with honors”. Mahmoud was not at all interested in teaching anything to his kids. He wanted to take a nap, hell or high water.

In the meantime, one of the youngsters came in: “Why should our army be sent to fight the entire population of one of the governorates of the country. In fact, the entire Armed Forces are now engaged in a full scale operation that is aimed at the obliteration of the people of Sa'ada.”

The father now awoke: “How many times have I told you, Ibrahim, stop talking politics these days; you know that the Government has its ears tuned on anyone who ever dares mention the Governorate of Sa'ada. Just yesterday, one of our neighbors was asking someone at the Al-Qa'a Market, near the Foreign Ministry, where they were selling the grapefruits that were coming from Sa'ada. Within seconds, a pickup loaded with an anti-aircraft gun whisked by him and blocked his forward path. The men on the pickup came down and surrounded the guy and picked him onto the truck. Later on, when he was released, he told a horrible tale of how it took him 10 days to convince the arresting officer, who had heard him say the word Sa'ada in the marketplace and called for reinforcements to help arrest the man, who was 'giving lectures on the Houthis in the marketplace' the real truth. When he tried to explain to the prison officials that he has never been to Sa'ada, nor has he even met anyone from there, they got a few 'agents' all testifying that they each heard him mention the word Sa'ada ten times! He kept consistently saying to them that the only time he ever mentioned Sa'ada in the market is when he was asking about the guy selling Sa'ada grapefruits there. There is only one guy selling Sa'ada grapefruit there, so they can go ask him if he was not a regular customer or not. Sure enough the police did not waste any time and they picked up the Sa'ada grapefruit seller, on suspicion of financing the Houthi rebels! By the end of the week there were 20 people arrested ranging from the supplier of the grapefruits to the market, the truck driver who brings them and finally the farmer and his children who grew them. All had become a ring of financiers for the Houthis.

Finally, an intelligent officer came to take the complex case of the Houthi financing ring, because the ring was 'found to have tentacles stretched out in all directions according to the news bulletin'. The officer was smart enough to realize that this case was really getting out of hand for no reason at all. When his commanding officer asked him why he is being so lenient on one of the most 'dangerous' terrorist financing team they have ever captured. The young intelligent officer said: 'For the simple reason that I have been buying grapefruit from the same man for the last ten years almost and there is no place that one can get grapefruits like this anywhere in Yemen, or for that matter anywhere in the world.' He took a huge grapefruit from a bag he had brought from home. He told his commanding officer: “Every winter, if you want to get the best grapefruit in the world, just go to this man right here, pointing to the Sa'ada Grapefruit seller. I guarantee you will never get better grapefruit anywhere else in Sana'a. With this blessing from Allah our neighbor was able to get out from the misery of uncalled for imprisonment on fabricated charges, by zealous security officials who want to get a few brownie points for their records” The father ended his long dissertation on the case of the Sa'ada Grapefruit seller.

The mother was shocked at the nonsense of it all, and the unneeded suffering revealed by her husband: Just think what they would have done, if they heard what our son just said a few minutes ago!

The father said: “Well, I do not know how the women's prison is like, but for sure, you would have found out right away, because the first people they will look for, especially if our son goes into hiding, will be his parents. In our case neither grapefruits, nor apples will save us from the Houthi witch hunting that caught on with our security apparatus like a mysterious severe flu.”

Hassan Al-Haifi has been a Yemeni political economist and journalist for more than 20 years.