The gas cannister [Archives:2002/12/Last Page]

March 18 2002

Ma Just listen to me! Go and get the gas cannister filled and you can count on lunch, otherwise you can eat what you can find when you come back from work. Im telling you now!
M The money for the gas is with the boy. Hes going to fill the cannister, Musida.
Ma Why dont you get it filled? Have you got a plane waiting for you at the airport?
M God! I am telling you, the boy is going to get it filled. Cant you understand that?!
Ma And I am telling you that the cannister is twice as heavy as the boy!
M Get him a barrow from the neighbours, or let him roll it and Ill give him twenty riyals when I come back from work.
Ma Now you go and fill it, and Ill give you 100 riyals for your pains. Whats wrong with you!
M Have you had breakfast yet or are you fed up because youre still hungry?
Ma And how are we going to make breakfast when the gas cannister is empty!
M Send the boy to fill it, Musida.
Ma The boy is small and the cannister is too heavy for him, Musid.
M Find him a barrow or let him roll it!
Ma Now if my son were a soldier in the army, that would be fine, but hes just a child, and the cannister is three times his size!
M I am telling you, get him to roll it along and wake up!
Ma Come on! You roll it yourself, or get your lunch in the souk. I care about my son, and I dont want anything to happen to him.
M What on earth would happen to him? Children are always going to get gas cannisters filled.
Ma Ask, and you might just find out!
M Im asking you now!
Ma Ive told you before: the gas cannister comes out of the factory and its chucked about. Then when they put it onto a lorry its chucked on. And then its chucked off again. And the man at the store chucks it about. And on top of all that its rolled around.
M And whats wrong with that, then, Musida?
Ma What do you mean, whats wrong with that! Are you completely gormless! Dealing with gas cannisters incorrectly like this triples the pressure inside the cannister.
M Really!
Ma Let me finish! People who deal with gas cannisters in this way dont seem to realise that raising the pressure inside the cannister makes it more liable to explode.
M Yes, youre right, Musida. Thats is dangerous. And we have to make people aware of it for the sake of every family in Yemen.
Ma Thats one thing. But we also want every family in Yemen to make sure that they keep their children safe by not giving them work to do unless the work is definitely free from all dangers.
M And what, pray, is going to get us to every house so that we can give them this information?
Ma Thats easy! Ill give you a copy of the instructions and you can go your way and Ill go mine!
M Go on!
Ma Come on, say that a cannister is twice as heavy as a child when its empty!
M Twice as heavy as a child then its empty!
Ma And four times as heavy as a child when its full!
M Four times as heavy as a child when its full!
Ma This means that we have been getting our children to do something they are completely incapable of quite apart from all the dangers.
M Go on!
Ma One of the children had a cannister fall on his foot and couldnt walk for three months! A second child had the barrow and the cannister tip over and the handle bashed his ear. A third rolled a cannister across the road straight into the path of a car. And a fourth child escaped death by an inch!
M Youre right. Ive seen it myself, Musida. One child came back with a cannister on a barrow. I dont know what made him open the cannister. He tried to close it, but wasnt able to. The gas kept leaking out with the child breathing it in. And on top of his own exhaustion and the sun and dust in the streets, it was only the mercy of God that saved him.
Ma So this is exactly what Im telling you! Either go and get that gas cannister filled now, or you can expect to come home and eat scraps. For Gods sake use your head, Musid! If we carry on in this way we are exposing our children to completely unnecessary dangers. Now that Ive told you, you can go and spread the message yourself!