A translated version of this piece is Available in: العربية (Arabic)
art work courtsey of Lona al-Wadie
A pack of Sana’a canines living in Mathba’h neighborhood decided to go to a big party. The dogs were invited by another collective, from Shmelieh, in the southeast of the city. There was no question that it was going to be an epic sort of party, prepared with unparalleled enthusiasm since the get-go. They sent poor as skin-and-bones dogs to every front to spread the invitation wide and took all necessary precautions to secure the invitation’s reach, for it is mighty easy for scraggy canine messengers to get killed, no matter the way they may run.
The dogs established a smart system of swift substitution whereby another dog would head to survey the crime scene and then pick up the trajectory of the dead dog with the utmost speed, so important was it to attend the party scheduled to take place in a flank of the capital.
The oldest dog of Mathba’h, the sheikh of the pack, didn’t take too long to decide to partake in the fete. At first, he was a bit sluggish and reluctant, uncomfortable with the location of the party, for the distance between Mathba’h and Shmelieh was considered a great danger in and of itself. Plus, given his extensive experience and the many parties he’d been a part of, thrown by canine associations here and there, he had learned a lot. For instance, he knew that securing five liters of water per canine journey was of vital importance. Plenty of people in Sana’a, he well knew, were of the no-good type who do not slake the thirst, not even a bit, of a dog standing in the middle of the road, wheezing dry. Nevertheless, he decided in the end to participate and instructed younger dogs to prepare.
One cold night, his mother had placed him alongside three females in a garbage mountain pit near the airport. This natural birth coincided with a vicious human campaign, with the strangest motive: to kill all dogs in Sana’a, whether ‘stray dogs’ or ‘rabid dogs’. This sent his mother into a state of serious panic. With nothing but her mere bark, how could she face a bullet shooting through her skull, the laughing killer? So, after careful consideration of the matter, she decided to go to the least dangerous place, where she just so happened to find an abandoned car, and, after a few simple procedures, quickly determined to bring her litter with natural dexterity to the car. And that’s where the sheikh, his sisters, and his mother stayed for a short while, less than two weeks, just as long as the humans needed to undertake that genocide of his ilk and breed. Only a few survived.
Bare feet and hands, a black dog arrived in Tahrir Square, panting. He was severely emaciated, with bulging eyes, and practically had to walk alongside any stretch of wall lining the road to avoid being thrown down by the wind. He departed, with purpose and zeal, from Shmelieh after the Friday sunset prayer, passed by Taiz Street, and then turned left at the corner toward al-Sayileh in old Sana’a, where he trotted on the stones, inlaid American-style, until he reached the wall of the Ministry of Defense. He stopped momentarily at a part of the wall with protruding stone. He lifted his left leg and took a piss on the rock, steam rising as the car lights in al-Sayileh fell upon the stone.
He met those involved in Tahrir Square, and they exchanged different perspectives on the matter of the party. He had wanted to go back right after dinner, but a marvelous bitch in Tahrir made him swear an oath that he wouldn’t go back until the next morning, so he lingered.
A rumor spread among the retired cultural elite and military veterans, their clean muzzles marked by seriousness as they passed the word, that these were the final days of the regime. Though no one had any idea of the true or supposed age of this regime. The official radio was broadcasting in strange fear, always with headlines like ‘Vampire bat scheme revealed to lead suspicious movements’. ‘Vampires’, it repeated, again and again.
The vampire bat was the only one easily arrested at night. He had a canine head exactly as shown on TV, appearing emaciated and trembling. The authorities arrested this vampire while he was washing up after a quick fuck with his vampiress wife one night.
The authorities decided to change the government working hours of state employees all of a sudden: the nine-to-five became a night-time shift. The vampires also decided to change their natural sleeping cycle, going to bed at dark and waking up for the day!
Strange dogs began flocking to Sana’a in secret. Frizzy haired dogs crept in from Taiz and Aden. Dogs with long, slim hairless legs also appeared, probably infiltrating from Marib. For most of the canines, Sana’a was a new place, and they didn’t know their way around: it became normal to come across two foreign dogs following a Sana’a dog.
Military intelligence quickly observed, over and over again, the fast movements of individual dogs of Sixty Street, but they attributed their solo movements to an old tactic, still used by some revolutionary groups, intended to cloud their vision and divert their attention away from collective movements. The intelligence forces quickly called for reinforcements, but the big bosses responded by sending only a fraction of the requested back up, which created a widespread grumbling between the two militaries.
The one and only state radio continued to broadcast exclusively national songs, all day and all night, interspersed with political and military manifestoes.
Things became more confusing as they got clearer. Dogs were found dead all along the side of the road, on al-Zubariri, Hadda and Taiz streets. Tanks moved to and parked on Sixty Street; goodwill and other ambassadors of all kinds departed, accompanied by their clean dogs in shimmering brocade outfits and with strange objects on their feet. Zealous national anthems, calling to defend religion and the honor of the nation of Islam, went on forever.
Zero Hour, as it came to be known, was replaced by waiting, by anticipation, from political forecasters hosted on satellite channels, all with the title ‘urgent’, drawing attention to the so-called ‘Military Manifesto, Number 1’.
A huge plane landed near the rubbish as small planes, their whirring endless, continued to fly in the sky. Meanwhile, the only radio broadcast stopped, and a calm like never before prevailed. Hours later, the broadcast – and the television – resumed once again. The TV began its broadcast with a word from the American ambassador, with a big dog calmly having lunch by his side, on the red carpet. The ambassador was sitting on a chair and reading from his paper, words like, “Today is a new day in the history of the people, democracy, human and animal rights, double standards…”
The radio also broadcasted the speech of the American ambassador, and in the end, the elders listened to him, ears glued to the radio. It sounded like an American dog burping after lunch on a live broadcast from the embassy.