I have an appointment at nine with someone whose interview was published in al-Sharq al-Awsat before. I met her before going into the restaurant in Sana'a. Nadia the girl of ten, stood before the door of my car with a look of misery pouring from her eyes. She didn't speak, but her innocent eyes filled with crushed hopes, told me a lot. I asked her if she had her breakfast, and she said Yes, thank God.
I put my hand in my pocket and gave her some money, which she refused to take, saying that she wants something else. I asked her what she wants and she said she will tell me when I come out of the restaurant. I promised that I wouldn't be late. After finishing the interview, I got into my car, forgetting Nadia's beautiful eyes and broken gaze.
When I was about to move, she stood in front of me, saying, did you forget me uncle. I said, excuse me I have many worries that make me forget. I took money from my pocket and gave it to her. Nadia said, I don't want money. I asked her what she wants. She said that she wants a shoe for the school.
"I cannot tolerate the insults of my fellows because of my old torn shoes," she said. I looked at her shoes, which seemed she had swept all Sana'a streets with them. I told her that I have not the price of the shoes now, telling her that I will come tomorrow with the money to buy a new shoe. She apologized to accept the money and went to a far corner while I called her to come back but she did not pay attention.
I stayed confused in my car. I went out of the car to persuade Nadia to take the money. I was surprised to find her burying her head between her arms crying in a breaking heart silence.
I asked her, why do you cry. Wait until I go to money exchange and get some money. She continued to cry without speaking. I said jokingly, what will I get if I bought you the shoe?
She felt that I was going in the right track that she wants and raised her eyebrows with remains of tears and dreams in them, saying
"God bless your children."
I said, and what else?
She said, I will recite for you the Koran verse ( And children to be by his side!)
I said, it is a deal.
Nadia said, " the shoe shop is on the other side of the street. I took her from her hand and we crossed the road to the shoe shop. The shopkeeper knew Nadia and said to her, I believe you are going to buy the shoes today.
She Said confidently, Yes, God willing. The shopkeeper started showing her some shoes. She turned them with eagerness that I never saw in a child's eyes. She finally chose one. I told the shopkeeper that I have no Yemeni currency and gave him a foreign currency banknote, which I carried with me from Britain.
He agreed to take it and Nadia took the shoe and recited the Koranic verse.
She said, I will go to school without fear of the comments from my fellows in the class. She thanked me and went away, opening the shoe box cover in childlike joy.
I went into my car. I looked at Nadia while putting on her new shoes filled with joy. I said to myself, how little is it that satisfies Nadia. I would have liked to sit with Nadia to tell me more about the conditions of her family, but her delight, and the shortness of my time prevented it. We went, I, to another Yemeni pain, and Nadia to her delight which will last even for a short while.
My contemplation reflected the image of Yemen in Nadia. It is a country that it is impoverished by corruption, illiteracy, gat and continuous wars.
While I was wandering in Sana'a streets, I saw the stores crowded with shoppers as well as branches of international companies. I saw my old friend carrying an ( i phone 4S devise). I also saw the wealth accumulating in some parts and streets of Sana'a, while other streets, not far away are like the streets that had encountered one of the Greek disasters.
The accumulation of riches in one street means Yemen is not a poor country, but it needs a fair system for wealth distribution. The backbone of this system depends on tax and zakat collection, which is a religious and national right of the state to spend them on the poor and the public projects.
This is the essence of the solution. we only need a just, transparent tax system, so that the wealth will not accumulate in certain streets, on the expense of other streets in the same city.
Nadia bought her shoe this time, but who will buy her a shoe next time? Who will provide food for quarter of a million of Yemeni children who are on the verge of death due to starvation.
Woe to the corrupts from the tears of Nadia, and from the hunger of children in Abyan, Haja and Hodeida. Woe to those who dispute over power, from the revolution of the hungry if they took to Sana'a streets again, then Nadia and Yemen will not forgive them.