Below is the ferenj version of the story of the stone soup:
The etyopian version, well it is not so much a story as an aphorism —tagash yedingay shorba yiTeTal. This expression was made famous–at least in our circle–by Sami. The circle in question–or what’s left of it–comes together every several years. In one such recent occasion, the story of the soup got the chance to be brought up again.
The four of us (two of the chicks, Sami and I) are kicking it with Mona’s mom and dad. Even under normal conditions, when you have brought Sami along, there would be no shortage of topics of conversations. But when Sami decides to bring along his outrageous dreads (Lord forgive that boy!), well then you know it is going to be topic bonanza. This song, Ganja Bonanza, is ringing in my head; but that does not mean Sami smokes weed. He’s just confused; or maybe he has got a lot of useful thoughts and he is trying to reach out to the world with his hair; share with us multidimensional pieces of his mind; or he may recently have picked up the bible and stumbled uponThe Book of Judges; or maybe he’s just plain confused.
Dad is amazed by Sami’s dexterity with the Amharic language that he asks what his major in college was. Of course, all four of us are thallophyters (that is biologists for the uninitiated.) It’s testimony time from his friends and I jump in. I quote him on, what I believe is, one of his finest utterances viz. the stone soup and patience. Mom and dad join us in our chorus of plaudits for the saying and the one who said it. I credit the stone soup with being the one thing that keeps me going when I get frustrated by my haplessness (and helplessness) on matters pertaining to the fairer sex.
Sami goes on to heap insult to injury. He likens my excruciating vigil at the gates of love to that of a cat which waits on end for a mouse to come out of its burrow.
But it is all good. Once we have said farewell to our wonderful hosts, we were out on the streets, laughing it out, referring to potential targets as mice.
Unrelated; or a bit related…
When I came to Bahir Dar, I had told myself and others that it was going to be for three years. After that, the plan was to pursue (it sounds as if I am chasing a paper and it is running for dear life) further education, or having failed to do that, relocate to a different part of the country. There was also that subliminal mission to be accomplished in those three years –I was to sow my oats. I’ve had it all figured out. From what I had heard, all I needed to bring was a copulatory organ and the girls in Bahir Dar were going to do the rest –initiation, follow through, the whole enchilada. A magazine with “Gonder and Bahir Dar: Bewesib YekeleTu Ketemoch” for a front cover teaser springs to mind. That was to be my life.
I hate it when Gonder is written as Gondar. It gives the impression that Bahir Dar and Gon Dar are twin cities or something.
Now it has been well nigh three years. And since the only oats I have been dealing with thus far is the one that I eat for breakfast, I believe it is high time for change. Kind of bide my destiny at a different location. I should move on before my attachment with Ba Da grows and makes it harder for me to leave.
And the nominees are (drum rolls)
With shared pros of newness and dusty roads and salty water for respective cons, ladies and gentlemen, damas y caballeros, I give you Jimma and Mekelle. Give it up for them.
There is also that lurking wish shared with almost every other member of the Etyopian intelligentsia (if I may dare call myself that) of going abroad and pursuing…
Why am I telling you all this? I am doing it for myself. I am using it as a public reminder for myself that I have got to make a change in my life in many respects; that I must beat my fear of the unknown which has started to creep up on me now that the deadline is looming; something that goes “but you told everybody that you were going to…” when I start to get cold feet (like I know I will). I need to be prepared for and do what each of my possible alternate situation may require of me. And I am a Gemini and we are supposed to multitask.
This past three days have been disappointing in that I’ve been struggling to get into the rhythm of getting even the smallest of things done. (“The grand scheme of things thrives on the smaller stuff” Somebody. Somewhere.)
So get cracking!