By: Ragheb Malli
A reflection through the eyes of a small Yemeni child
The streets are harsh. The sky too. I don’t think I remember what Yemen in peace looked like. Baba said we are lucky we are still alive, but I don’t think it is lucky to be alive just to survive. Taiz was my most beautiful city. I was planning to be a lawyer when I grew older, now I plan to just try and grow older. Mama said that I should be grateful we were still able to put food in our bellies, this isn’t food. My parents are too thin, as am I. Mama’s once pink, round cheeks are hollows of tears. Baba’s smile takes too much of his energy. I don’t know what we have done; all I know is I was living and playing – I swear, I did nothing else. There was an airstrike not too long ago near us, it killed many of Marwan’s relatives. The Saudi airstrike happened in the night, Baba said maybe they didn’t feel it as they must have been all sleeping. I know he is lying, the sounds of their planes always wake me up.
What I don’t understand is why no one is helping us. No one is shouting at Saudi to stop dispersing weapons and bombs. No one is shouting at them to leave our hospitals alone. No one is shouting at them to stop. The ongoing silence hurts me more than the snipers ever can. Yesterday Zahra came and asked me if I wanted to play, Mama grabbed my hand and screamed “Do you want to die?” and I screamed back, “No, I want to play”. She began crying and I felt bad, but I don’t know what I said.
I heard the radio this morning saying that a quarter of all the deaths in Yemen are children. Mama says that is a very big number for such a small people, we must be bad at hiding. Sometimes I try to make sense of this never ending disaster but I just don’t understand how so much suffering can go unnoticed. Baba says a lot of people are trying to help but the Saudi’s are making it impossible, they have blockaded supplies from coming in and now hospitals and everyone has no access to basic health care. I think they don’t want us to get better because Baba says people are afraid of the strong. But they have nothing to be afraid of, I just want to live and grow up and eat ice cream in the summer. Now I just worry where we will get our grains from because the news told us that Saudi planes have bombed the grains port. So now no help, no supplies and no food. People are already dyeing from all three, so maybe it has to be our turn next.
I have lost hope, just as I have lost most of my aunts, uncles, cousins and friends. I am just waiting and thinking about when and how it will happen. Maybe we will die together at home in an air raid, or maybe we will run out of food. I may step on a bomb or I may die of one of those new diseases that are going around. Either way, it will be our turn soon – we’ve been alive for too long, I just pray it doesn’t hurt.
In ten years time, I pray that Yemen will have found peace and that people are chubby. I pray that people will stand up for us and protect us. Baba said if people don’t put pressure on their governments this will continue until there is no Yemen left. He is wrong, there will be a Yemen, just no people left in it. I pray that one day on a hot summer’s day, I will eat ice cream outside without Mama crying.
Ragheb Malli – London