August 8, 2015
Note: I’ll be writing posts in parts because this experience is dreadfully long.
It’s been awhile since I’ve wrote on my blog, but I promise you all I have a legitimate excuse: the Saudi – Houthi war, and I was in Yemen for the first four months of it. Lovely, isn’t it?
I decided to fly from New York to Aden to see family and get married in early April. Little did I know, I was packing up luggage to a war that would randomly erupt one month later. A few days before the March 28th Saudi – Houthi war, I remember sitting down on my couch in the living room, reading facebook posts about Houthi / Saleh militia movements heading towards Yemen’s southern provinces from the capital, Sana’a. Sana’a fell quickly to the Houthis, and as they move south, they also start controlling the provinces successfully. In my mind, sitting in my villa in southern port city of Aden, I had thought, “This can either get really ugly or it can be an easy takeover of Aden.” I don’t believe anyone ever predicated that a full-scale war participated by neighboring countries would start. If a person predicted that a 10-nation coalition started a war on Yemen’s Houthis, people would laugh. No on saw it coming – not even the experts.
As Houthis were entering Taiz and conflicts started within the province, I told my mom and siblings (who are all usually based in New York), “We, in Aden, are next. We have to prepare…buy lots of water and canned foods incase of any emergencies.” A few hours later, breaking news appears on CNN reading, “Taiz airport shutdown by Houthi rebels.”
“Shit,” I said. I decided to call my father In New York and tell him about this news and explained that maybe we should try to catch the next flight out of Aden and back to New York. He thought that the situation would be calm after a few days of conflicts. In other words, the whole “Things usually settle in Yemen” mentality. I cannot lie to myself or to you reading this post now…I cried for a bit while on the phone with him but that’s ok. I cried not because of fear that I might die with my family, but I feared the unknown – the near future of Yemen and Aden.
I remember on March 19th, hearing a far away sound of a bomb and found out on Aljazeera that Houthis used war planes to fly over Hadis location in the presidential palace at the southern tip of Aden city. They used the warplanes to target the palace and successfully fired strikes on the president of Yemen after fleeing from Sanaa. It wasn’t going well and I was mentally preparing for chaos in the next few days and that’s what happened.
“BOOM!” A heavy and large explosion woke me up at the late night of March 28th and I ran to the hallway on the second floor of my home and thought, “I have been in Yemen during tough times. I have heard, witnessed, explosions, gun shootings, but I have NEVER heard something like this and at this time of the night.” Immediately, I loudly told my mom and my siblings whose ages run from 16, 12, 6 and 3 years old, to all go down stairs and sit on the floor until I see what is going on. I decided to open my Facebook account and try to understand the situation. My newsfeed was different than the previous night.
“It seems that an unknown jet bombed military sites in Sanaa right now,” one user said. Another user said, “I cannot believe this is happening, huge explosion like never before just took place in Sanaa, and it came from the sky!!!” I thought, “Well, I am not in Sanaa! I am in Aden. I need news on Aden.” I’ve never scrolled my newsfeed so quickly in my life, until I stopped and one user wrote, “It seems that Saudi Arabia air striked locations in Sanaa and Lahj. A NO FLY ZONE IS IMPLEMETED ON YEMEN– Saudi is at war with Yemen’s Houthis.”
“Holy crap!!!” I screamed and my mother frantically screaming back saying, “What is going on!” I reply, “Mom, it seems like Yemen and Saudi are in a war. We are screwed.” She went on exercising her prayers of faith while I sat there looking at my sisters faces and brother’s little cute heartwarming eyes…and I told them, “Don’t worry, things will be fine, I promise. I swear to you all that I will get you back safe to New York. I’ll do whatever it takes kiddos! Now, let’s grab some ice cream and I’ll turn on the cartoon for you guys.”
I looked at them once more and my heart broke into little pieces thinking of the situation we will be in and how it will end. While I write this, I feel my heart aching and it suddenly feels hard to breathe…
I went back upstairs and brought pillows, comforters and chargers for the family and threw it downstairs. I took my purse, put a 9mm gun in it with my gun licence and covered it with a small blanket so the kids won’t see anything and carried it carefully with me downstairs. I sat it at the couch closest to the main door of my home and I told my family that I will be sleeping there, while they are in the family room a little deeper into the house with less windows.
My mom looked worried and my 12 year old sister looked terrified….
And it all starts from here…