Dance, when you’re broken open.
Dance, if you’ve torn the bandage off.
Dance in the middle of the fighting.
Dance in your blood.
Dance when you’re perfectly free.
Six months after Friday of dignity, when 50 peaceful protesters were killed, another brutal attack began resulting in over 100 deaths and over 500 wounded. A 10 month old baby boy was killed by a stray bullet while in his car, over one hundred martyrs, tens of bodies were shattered to pieces by mortars, and others killed and wounded by snipers on rooftops, amongst them two people I know. The gruesome images I saw made my stomach turn. How can people resort to such horrific measures against their own people.
The attacks left me shocked, horrified with uncontrollable tears. Not only because I am sad, but also because I was worried of what will become of this revolution. I worried that some people who joined the revolution solely for personal and political gains will drag the it to hell. Most people told me not to worry too much, we will deal with this at a later phase.I am not convinced.
In the midst of this sadness, anxiety and worry, we had to celebrate our cousin’s wedding! As customary in Yemeni tradition, men and women have separate weddings. The bride’s wedding was on Tuesday and the groom’s was on Wednesday.
On Tuesday morning, instead of waking up to music celebrations for the wedding, we woke up at 3:30 a.m. by loud explosions and gun fire that continued until noon. Our windows were shaking from impact. We live around 2 km away from the Zira’ah entrance to change square. I couldn’t help but wonder how the people there were feeling. Will they be ok? how many people will loose a loved one? how many children will be orphaned? how many wives will be widowed. I spent my time making frantic phone calls to change square to check up on people I know..
I called my aunt at noon to check if the wedding was still on. She informed me that they changed the venue from the wedding hall to the house, and that it will start around 4 p.m. The earlier the better for security reasons. She told me that the bride was crying the night before, after all, a very important day of her life was mixed with explosions, death, and injury. In addition, they lost all the money for the hall as it is non-refundable! They also had added expenses because they needed to rent a tent for the guests coming to the house.
When I got up to get dressed I felt strange. How can I dress up, put make up on, and go to a “celebration” when people are dying. Torn about what to wear, I decided to wear a black dress as a sign of mourning.
As I got there at 4:30 p.m., I expected that many people won’t show up. I was surprised to find the tent FULL of women in sexy clothes, with full make up on. The singer’s great voice made the room clap in unity and many women got up to dance.
As I sat there listening to the music and watching the women dance I felt that I was in the twilight zone. Naturally, my mind was confused. I couldn’t comprehend how I can go from fear and depression to happiness and celebration in a short period of time. To give you a better picture, listen to this 20 second clip, the first 10 seconds is what I was hearing all morning until noon; the second 10 seconds is the sounds from the wedding in the afternoon.
The dramatic shift was hard to comprehend. Except for myself, everyone seemed to naturally make a quick switch in mood. The women took breaks and talked about the ongoing violence, many recapped how hard it was for them to leave the house, but despite that they insisted on coming anyways. The bride and the family surely appreciated that.
At first, I judged them, how do they have it in them to dance when people are dying?!! how can they not think about the people giving up their life for change?? Then, I remembered something I read somewhere that suggested that in war torn countries, nightlife thrives. Despite the war, people always partied at night. I found it odd at that time, but I now finally understand how that can happen. In the midst of anger, frustration, fear and sadness; dancing becomes a great way to eject all these feelings from your body. I myself love to dance, so I understand the power of it.
When I accepted that, I was finally able to celebrate one of my favorite cousin’s wedding in an appropriate manner, but at the same time remember the martyrs who’s faces will never be forgotten. For them we will keep the peaceful movement alive, and for them we will continue the struggle. For them, we will also live, so that we can honor their memory in every place we go.
By the end of Tuesday night, there were 84 deaths, and at least one wedding that I knew of. We don’t know how long this conflict will last, so as hard as it is, we must make life happen even in the midst of death, or else will become zombies walking this earth but not really living it or contributing to our cause.