Yemen: The Escape (Part 2)

15 Oct

Chapter 5:
I persuade baba that we should go to the Emirates office so we can sort this all out and he eventually relents. We go there and sit in front of the man. I want a ticket out of here I say. He nods. It’s fully booked he says. I expect that he must be tired of everyone else trying to leave because of the situation.
Please, I plead.
He looks at baba and baba nods at him. The man taps fast on the keyboard but it is clear he’s not pressing on any buttons. I grow impatient.
“Look, I know there’s a war going on but is there no way you can check?” I ask.
“What war?” he asks.
Baba clears his throat.
“Oh right that war” the man says nervously.
There’s nothing he can do he says. It’s fully booked. The next flight won’t be in two months. I look at baba in despair and realise it is baba that is mouthing the words for him to say.

Chapter 6:
We get back in the car.
“There isn’t really a war going on, is there baba?” I say sadly
“No”, he admits
“But what about all the family acting so frightened?”
“I told them it was for a greater good”
“And the news channels reporting on Yemen?”
“I set up a fake studio”
“And the explosions I’ve been hearing?”
“I had your uncle bang on a drum outside”.

Chapter 7:
My mother, silent as always, finally intervenes, and one day I wake up to find our tickets have been booked. A Yemenia flight to Dubai then we go on the Emirates from there.
“He only agreed after I said we would both return with you” she whispered. She always whispers. I can barely hear her most days. I have such communication problems with my parents. But I heard her loudly that day. I was going home.

I started to pack, frantically and with reckless abandon, stopping only to dance around my room to forbidden western songs. My mum gives me cigerettes to pack for my great uncle. T-shirts and socks for my cousin studying in London.
“I wont have any space for my stuff “ I complain.
“That’s ok, you’ll be back soon enough”, she whispers.
“What?” I ask.
“What?” she says.

Chapter 8:
We arrive at Sana’a airport. It is madness. Not as mad as Heathrow when a bit of snow has fallen but here their queues are messy, not single form like the British. I accuse the man in front of me of pushing in. Turns out he’s been there all along. Two other people push in and I keep quiet. I start to wonder what is worse; to stay silent in the face of injustice or to shout at someone who did nothing wrong? I stand there for a while, musing. And then it hits me. Has Yemen changed me? Or have I always been this deep?

Chapter 9:
We reach Dubai airport by midday. When we go to the transfer desk, we find a disturbance between other fellow Yemeni transit passengers and the Emirates airline employees. There is an elderly Yemeni lady who has 15kg extra baggage. The employees are demanding that she pay £350 for this extra luggage even though it is already on the plane and the lady had paid at Sana’a airport. She has no money and no place to stay in Dubai. The employee offers to send her back to Sana’a because he needs a receipt as evidence. I tell them the evidence was in the fact that Yemenia had loaded the luggage. Other people made good points too, but mine was the best so I kept repeating it.

An epiphany, I had. An old lady was being made anxious and ill for £350 though Emirates was one of the most profitable airlines in the world. They lost their humanity and gained the mentality of a massive corporation, though with no clear benefit to themselves.

“This is capitalism”, I educate my parents, “This is what capitalism does to you”.*

*So other parts of this book are obviously embellished but this story really did happen… I am being so confusing by mixing fact and fiction I know. Bear with me, I’m finding my writing style. I’m on a journey. Travel with me.

Chapter 10
On the plane from Dubai to London I watch Frank and I watch Maleficent. Both good films. But in between, I reflect deeply on my experiences in Yemen and Dubai. I have changed. Things feel differently when I touch them. I feel the air, it is cool. I feel the plastic of my chair, from within. It sends ripples through me. I realise that in a way, being stuck in Yemen is my trip to South America, this blog, my motorcycle diaries. In a way, I am the new Che Guvaura. A changed person, belonging nowhere, existing nowhere. An idea.

Don’t search for me, I’m already gone.

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