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Yemeni Journey

Aftermath

Yesterday I got a firsthand look at some of the destruction caused by the rioters last week. I use the word “rioters” purposefully, as all that took place was a few hours of destruction and immaturity that had nothing to do with “protesting” and everything to do with selfishness and a simple desire to act out.

On the way there we passed the taxi station, where a store had been gutted out and set to flame. Black fingertips reached out the two small windows, mute testimony to the fire and smoke which had come before. A few feet later and we came to the empty square where children ride their bikes and old men sit and talk as the sun begins its descent in the sky and the temperatures eases off some. Clearly there would be no bike riding or visiting that day, as, even though several days have passed, the square was still littered with shards of glass, some as long as a person’s forearm, some ground into an almost sand-like texture. Rocks were scattered throughout the square as well- they are the weapon of choice for the children and young men who are involved in this senseless violence.

We stuck to the road, skirting around the square with its many hazards for small feet, and soon came to the main street in front of the market. In the middle of the road sat four peddler’s carts, tipped over and fire-blackened, twisted into an impromptu sculpture from a madman’s dreams. Cars streamed by it, ignoring both it and the senseless violence that it represented. Still further on was another, larger cart, turned on its side, missing its wheels and one handlebar. I couldn’t help but wonder what the owners of these carts were doing now, without these tethers which had previously connected them to some level of sustainability. Then I wondered if they themselves had destroyed the carts in some mob-induced frenzy. There’s really no way to tell, now, after the fact, but it would be no surprise.

Up ahead we passed the restaurant with its broken glass windows. It was deserted, but all the restaurants are deserted in the daytime of Ramadhaan. A large black spot in front of a metal door showed where someone had attempted to burn the door- it was outlined in black up to about three-fourths of the way up. This was another sign of the senselessness and mindlessness of this riot- that someone had tried to burn a metal door in a cement block building.

We did our shopping and came home as quickly as possible. Things are calm on the surface, but underneath there is a tension on the air, a breath of violence being held, waiting for a reason to flare. I was reminded of this again this morning, when my husband and I walked to the beach. Where the paved road meets the gravel road that leads into the market, someone had placed a barrier of rocks across the road. Coming back, I could see where a dumpster had been dragged into the middle of the road further on. Clearly some of the people, at least, are not spending their nights in prayer and worship, or even in eating and visiting and enjoying the nights of this blessed month.

Last night I woke up when the power was out, disturbed by a sound that at first I could not place. I lay in the still darkness of my room and waited. Soon came a flash and a bang- thunder. I closed my eyes and ignored the heat, listening to the strange and wonderful rumbles of sound, each one different from the one before. And soon, I heard the rain. Outside, the village children, who stay up most of the night during Ramadhaan, cheered. I opened the windows and let the cool wash of air sweep over me, taking with it some of the tension of the last few days. And I couldn’t help but wish that it would wash away some of the hatred and frustration that is marring the lives of the inherently gentle, generous people who live here.

But only time will tell.

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