For Mama or Hasana Jemeena, the “market” has great importance for her family. At least six people - her, her husband, and all 4 children, must entrust their lives and survival to the market. For 15 years Mama and her husband have had a fresh fish and seafood stall in the Phimonchai market, Mueang District, Yala Province to pay for sending their children to school, until their eldest son, Mayaki (Yili) Waeyawae, aged 29, was able to graduate as a Hafiz (one who has memorized the Qurʹan) and with high level religion from Yala Mosque and became the pillar of the family. He helped his mother at the market and drove deliveries in place of his father who is old and getting sick; at the moment he can only act as imam at home, unable to help mother at the market as he had done for over ten years.
But then their hope disappeared along with the sound of an explosion at dawn on 22 January 2018 when one of the three killed in the bombing was her son, Yili, while he was on his motorcycle on the way back to the family’s fish stall in the market from delivering prawns to customers, and happened to be passing by just when the explosion happened.
Mayaki (Yili) Waeyawae
“Boom” – the end of the sound signalled his instantaneous death from the explosive force of a motorcycle bomb. The soul of an innocent person like Yili will return to the mercy of God peacefully, leaving behind only the chaos and screams of pain from the tens of injured and calls for help in the midst of the dust and smoke of the bomb and the wreckage of the shops.
Other than Yili, the bomb killed two other vendors and injured around 20 others!!
That day Mama said that she was looking after the stall in the market, which is far from the scene of the incident, so she was not affected at all. When she found out her son had been caught up in the explosion from news she read on a phone belonging to people in the market, her heart almost broke. She hurriedly went to see the lifeless body of her son that had been sent to the hospital.
On the day women from Civic Women went to visit Mama and her family at Bang Tawa, Nong Chik District, Pattani Province and interview her for the Citizen Journalist programme, Mama almost couldn’t speak. Her voice was quiet and faint; her voice is likely as bruised as her heart. There were tears in the corners of her eyes, but they did not flow; the tears are likely overflowing in her bosom, or she’d already wept on the day she lost her son until her eyes were empty.
Family of Mayaki (Yili) Waeyawae
As a believer who has faith that dying is according to the will of God, Mama was calm and composed; no different from Yili’s young wife Nusi Woma, a 22-year-old teacher of the Qurʹan who had been married to Yili for only 8 months, looking just as calm under her black hijab.
Most Muslim families facing loss would hide their feelings; it wouldn’t be easy to see them express extreme feelings of loss and sadness. This is because they have religion as their solace, which also helps them to reduce their rage and resentment. So when Mama was asked if she had anything to say to the culprit, she had nothing emotional to say. She only said in a flat voice, “I don’t want another incident like this to happen, I sympathize with people who have to work for a living”.
Mama seems to only have one worry, which is that losing this son is like losing a family head. While their other children are still studying, hopes vanished of having him inherit the family business they’ve been operating for over 10 years.
When asked if she will continue to sell fish at the market, she said she would still have to go on since this is her job. If she doesn’t sell, what else would she do for a living since she’s been working in that market for up to 15 years already?
Many vendors are no different from her; of course, they’re scared. But they still have to sell their goods every day. It’s likely no different for customers; after a while, they would have to return to buy things again as usual. Markets, therefore, are public areas where people do important everyday activities together.
And for market people such as Mama, as well as all the vendors and merchants, markets are a source of honest income for hand-to-mouth workers – and they all would have people standing behind them that they have to look after.
Thus, markets are like the breath of life for all market people.
Let’s not hurt the markets!