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Qat solely from a Personal Perspective

Updated on January 10, 2013

Dedicated to everyone who has made #NoQatJan12 possible.

I will not discuss Qat from an economic perspective; I shall leave that to the experts. I would not dare discuss the topic from a religious aspect for I lack the authority and knowledge to do so.

And I shall not approach it from a cultural perspective for I have utterly failed to come near comprehending this perspective.

I know that even the most brutal crimes have motives behind them yet for the life of me, I cannot get the motive behind this one.

I mean why would a caring mother prefer to spend hours of illusive happiness chewing Qat than spend genuine one with her children? Why would a father spend money on such a useless leaf when his very children label fruits as luxury? Why would a teenager kill his/her youth in the name of temporal euphoria ?

So given how clueless I am with the former perspectives, I am only left with my personal perspective. One that certainly is not half as beneficial as the former ones but it is all that I have to offer to celebrate the social media campaign “Jan 12 – #NoQatDay”.

First Acquaintance !

Qat, the disgusting leafy substance, and I started an aggressive Hate-Hate relationship since I was about 10 years old. And given that I am a bit more than double a decade, you could say that it is more than half a lifetime of hatred!

I had just moved to Yemen with my family after finishing their studies abroad when Qat and I got introduced.

Didn't take long for me to realize that the only thing that Qat and I had and still have in common is a magnetic force that pulls us to Yemen.

I know I owe this magnetic attraction I have towards Yemen to my parents. Like any other patriotic parents they were afraid that their children who haven’t seen the motherland would freak out the minute they see it.

So over and over, they reminded us of Yemen. At points, they sounded like a broken record but we were always reminded of Yemen's charming beauty, breathtaking scenes and caring people.

Mom, one of the most Yemeni patriotic individuals I have ever seen, raconteured Grandpa’s adventures from the Yemeni Revolution more amusingly than any other bedtime story.

Her visual descriptions, jubilant whispers and ignited passion threaded sparkling images even before I made it to sleep and started to dream. I pictured her barefoot dad struggling to climb the mountains; I saw his wife starving herself year after year to save for his return from jail, and most importantly I sensed how much love this man had planted in my mom.

Needless to say that I dreamed of visiting this land of heroes & martyrs, the way children dream of visiting Disney Land.

Queen of Sheba was my ‘Jasmine’, grandpa was my ‘Hercules’ and grandma with her sacrifice and devotion was my ‘Belle’ from ‘Beauty & the Beast’.

Now, anyone who has been to Yemen will know that it is anything but a child’s Disney yet surprisingly, I was not let down when I came back.

Do not know if self-fulfilling prophecy was in place but I was deliriously happy with the new culture.

Was not long before the rush of happiness faded and I started to wonder about the likes of Theme parks and movie theaters. And mom’s reasoning behind every negative answer was ‘Qat’. She would say:

“If it was not for this devilish plant, people would not be so sedated”, “If it was not for this cursed leaf, we wouldn’t have lost the land of two Paradise”.

Subsequently, my subconscious started to tie anything and everything negative in Yemen with ‘Qat’. And since I was obsessed with journalism at that time, I decided to use my little pen to uproot this plant for cursing what was once the “Arabia Felix”.

I interviewed everyone from the school’s principal to the janitor. To be quite honest, my so-called interviews were more of rhetorical questions than anything else.

Obviously, those interviews did not help me understand the mesmerization that drove sane individuals towards this leaf for teachers knew better than to speak their minds with a child.

However, transferring the hatred to written sentences helped me vanquish the feeling of helplessness and fostered my sentiments.

My sentiments accompanied me in my teenage hood when friends made bets to get me to chew it.

They accompanied me when I swore that if Mr. Perfect came riding a white horse chewing this greenish leaf, I would refuse him even if it meant a lifetime of spinsterhood.

I do not know if it is just me but green saliva, a swollen cheek and a voluntarily absent mind overshadow the white horse !

Aside from this personal hatred, I genuinely believe that uprooting this leaf or at least reducing its usage shall bring our Arab Felix back! It would be a DREAM come TRUE, if at least the same Yemenis who have decided to boycott Qat on Jan 12 boycott it through 2012 once and for all !


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