On the 4, Getting Ahead like a Grandfather, ወዘተ

Tears can be cathartic. I have always wanted to use that word in a blog post. Someone whom I cannot live without sent me this video at one of my lowest points. It has been the mainstay of my mornings:

I hate Frankfurt Airport, and Yahoo Mail! After spending a lonely, ደባሪ night on one of the benches in my designated boarding gate (if I hear one more “…flight number…Lufthansa, Star Alliance” I am going to scream), I could have missed my flight in the morning because they changed the gate. Fortunately for me, the new gate was close to the former one. But a South East Asian family and an elderly ሀበሻ couple who were no doubt on their way to another city in the US to visit their child/ren missed their flights for the same reason. We rushed to the new gate as soon as we found out but it was too late. I wonder if they had to spend another night at the airport.

Only a seasoned traveler would be wise enough to check if gates had been changed. Knowing where and how to check is another thing.

My yahoo account has been locked ever since I tried to login from one of the computers in the cursed airport (not even getting to see one of the Fanhansa planes could make up for the shitty time I had there.) Suspicious sons of bitches! Ok, some of the blame I take. I mean, the kinds of secret questions I choose, man!  “Where did you meet your spouse?” “Where did you spend your honeymoon?” ያሁ ከሰው አቆራረጠኝ!

It is amazing, the number of decent flags that you see flying here, even on the porches of many houses. Days are longer but towards the end, the sun looks like someone from below had thrown it onto the sky, and it made impact with a splat!

Attention to detail: I have seen on packaging instructions on how to eat mango right; the chair I am sitting on has got butt grooves:


Outsourcing: the couple of guys who stepped out of the congregation and made their way to the altar to help the priest when it was time for the Eucharist –what do they think they are doing?! Where I come from, only priests are supposed to give out Holy Communion.

Leave them to their devices: it seems like everybody would rather be someplace else. I fear they would not give me their time of day were I inclined to start a conversation.


Conversations: every opportunity I get, I talk about Ethiopia. ኢትዮጵያ ግን  እንዲህ ነው!  ኢትዮጵያም እኮ እንዲህ ነው!  … Who made me የባህል አምባሳደር? They just want to know how my name is pronounced. They don’t even bother to ask what it means.

ኢትዮጵያ: My watch is still on Ethiopian time; I couldn’t bring myself to change it. I reminisce while checking the weather widget on my device. አዲስ አበባ — grey and white, thunder. I teeter on the brink of getting my Kuntakinte on: how could they still see the moon but not me? But I was not brought on a slave ship like him. Everybody keeps telling me that I am very lucky. (Even dude at Hartsfield-Jackson “welcomed me back!” If you say so, my nigga!) Guess feelings do not always mirror luck.

Why do we prefer living in houses built by others instead of building our own house like ቶክቻው?


As soon as the plant becomes of reasonable height, why does it start to look yonder?  You had been lucky even back home, is this surrender? You know there is no glory in that. Why does it require that we board an airplane for us to have perspective of what’s most important, to have a bird’s eye view as it were?

ፀጋዬ also kind of said:

በመለኮቱ የቀባንን

ችግራችንን ተጫወትንበት

My shit literally pales in comparison with the shit of bygone days. Guess when I became open to the scavenger lifestyle like a hyena, the pallor came naturally.

Sorry for bringing scatology into proceedings that are as heavy as the eschatological. But I couldn’t resist making a point; I couldn’t resist not censoring myself.

While we are on the topic, እንዳለጌታ ከበደ – ማዕቀብ has an anecdote on what a writer faced when he submitted his translated version of Julius Cesar for censorship.

… “ጁሊየስ ቄሣርን የሚያህል ግዙፍ ንጉሥ እንዴት በባለሟሎቹ ምክርና ሴራ በጩቤ ተወግቶ ይሞታል?” ጥያቄ አመጡ::

“ለሕዝብ እንዲቀርብ ከተፈለገ ጁሊየስ ቄሣር በአሽከሩ ተወግቶ እንዲሞት በማድረግ ፈንታ ንጉሡ አሽከሮቹን ተራ በተራ እየወጋ  እንዲገድል ቢደረግ የ ሳንሱርን ድልድይ ይሻገራል” አሉት:: ….

I read a new collection of short stories in Amharic. Out of the 13 stories contained in 187 pages, 9 dealt directly with the death of humans. In the 10th story a rhinoceros, a leopard and a lion get to die. Among the gruesome ways of dying included: being hit with የፖሊስ ዱላ, ዘነዘና, መዶሻ; የአረም መድሃኒት መጠጣት; ስጋ አንቆት መሞት:: The last one even has an old person regaling mourners at the house of a deceased (of a car accident) with stories of deaths that had shocked him the most in his lifetime.

I mean guys, come on! Why all this fascination with death?

Food: Cooking is never easy. አንዴ ጥብስ ለመስራት ፈልጌ ሽሮ ያለበት ቅቅል መሳይ ነገር ሰርቻለሁ: በልቻለሁም::  Although this took place only last week, I can barely remember how I pulled that off. Still there are some positives. A good morning could be synonymous with simply managing not to burn your scrambled eggs. That’s until your day is broken when you have to cook two different batches of rice and each one of them comes out looking like ቅንጬ:: Your only consolation –it’s good practice for the lab; you ought to be perfecting your protocols. ሽሮ ማረጉን አጣ! በማንኪያ ተጠጣ:: All of the times our mothers were telling us ወጡን እንዳንጠጣ, እንጀራ ከየት ይምጣ? Naan and tortilla are  convenient ለማጥቀስ but not ለመጠቅለል. So take a bite and then sip. ዶሮ ማረጉን አጣ! Chicken used to be reserved for holidays. But instead of ሰታቴ it now inhabits the quotidian Ziploc in my backpack. Another positive: at least now I seem to have solved the age old question. Of course the egg comes first. It comes in the morning.

Meanwhile on the other side of town, while I am striving በምግብ ራሴን ለመቻል…

I am at a bus stop on my way back to my apartment from Walmart. My days of getting lost around the city and the campus are not yet behind me. I have got a very poor sense of direction.  I get lost with a map in hand and even when assisted by the phone’s navigator. The buses here, they have got names likes the “orange circulator.” It would not be a misnomer if somebody called me the black circulator because, several times I have had to return to the place I started from without reaching my destination. The black part, well, there are other black students here. But I cannot help but feel singularly black and conspicuous. On top of that you know that I have got some distinct physical features.

Anywho, at the bus stop I approach a Chinese girl. She is very helpful. Consults the map for me. And later, she even helps carry some of my stuff onto the bus. How else would one kill the time while waiting for the bus? We converse. I tell her where I am from. I bet her that she knows little about my country. She says she knows some about the food we eat. Since she could not pronounce it, she opts to type it on her phone and show me. I expect to read እንጀራ and to be amazed that she knows about it. I read “tropical.” She goes on to ask if we had a lot of bananas! To this day I am confused as to whether her statements had a racial undertone. And the messed up part is that I really like bananas. Nothing beats ሙዝ በቅንጬ for breakfast. I tried to speak about እንጀራ but she kept asking about fruits. I told her that we had mad fruits like like oranges, papaya, mango, … That we were not just one-fruit-monkeys.

The professor at the departmental orientation drew the following to represent the five years that we are likely to spend at the school:


Then he went ahead to break the arrow down into the different years.I must admit that it’s the biggest fucking arrow that I have ever seen in my life; it took the entire length of the blackboard. The options are clear. One is to put my life on hold, put all the other meaningful things I should be doing with my life beyond the arrowhead.  Or I could start living, find me a ride-or-die-walk-with-her-man-on-the-arrow-and-beyond-chick. So, interested parties are asked, nay begged, to please come forward. You might ask, “how will I know (like Whitney) if you are the one for me?” My answer to you, dear soul, is that you don’t. በፍጹም ኢትዮጵያዊነት ወኔ  መግባት ነው:: Of course if you ask other people they might tell you that when it is the real thing both of you would feel real helpless until there is no remedy other than to fall into each other ምናምን ምናምን

Let the record show that I have got nothing against falling into each other. In fact, I was musing over how long I have been away from the human touch. Rarely do I get even to shake hands here. Somebody was telling us that feeling the earth with one’s hands was an effective way of dealing with depression.  It would show one how miniscule one’s trials and tribulations are when seen in the light of the grand scheme of things –there are bigger things. One thing the earth and humans have in common is that they are both made from dust.

The end of the arrow should see me back in ኢትዮጵያ. I want to return before it is too late. Before I go into church for the last time, the same way I came in for the first –carried by people. I want to live a useful life, both for myself and for ኢትዮጵያ cuz I kinda love her. I hope she feels the same way about me. I hope the tiny flag keeps on flying in my heart. አንች ትብሽ አንተ ትብስ ተባብለን ለመኖር ያብቃን! In case ኢትዮጵያ is unable to supply me with enough dough via the knowledge business, I intend to marry a rich woman. Said rich woman would not have to worry about anything: I will cook. I will clean. I will fuck. All the requisites. I wish I could be a seahorse so that she would be spared the inconveniences of childbearing and stays pretty.

But I know talk is cheap (talk is cheap would make a great tagline for a mobile services provider) and that I have to walk the talk. People are skeptical when I tell them of my plans to return: “That’s what they all say”, “እስቲ እናያለን”, “Only time will tell.” My answer, should time try to speak, I will smack it in the mouth. And if it so transpires that I was full of shit, and they try to point that out, I will smack them in the mouth.  ኢትዮጵያ ሆይ ብረሳሽ ቀኝ ትርሳኝ! Even if you are better off without me that is 😀


I pray to God that I would still seek him when I finally take flight the same way I sought him all those times when it felt like both my body and spirit were stuck in mud. Let my flight not be only the kind that takes its impetus from a hot bath and coffee in the morning; like a boxer who is pushed back into the ring when he is at the last of his energy reserves; like the throngs that go out each morning to make copies of their lives. I needs my spirit to soar. I don’t want to be weighed down by fear. The good book says that  fear has to do with punishment. I needs repentance.

The number 4 is the bus that serves our locality.

Some people in Ethiopia are replacing their grandfathers’ names with their mothers’. But grandfathers could be sneaky. Come here and I find out that my grandfather must take my father’s place. And I have never met the guy. Ethiopian Immigration set me up.


መልካም አዲስ ዓመት!

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. getere
    Sep 07, 2014 @ 08:53:28

    I would love to have my mother’s name in my name. It makes perfect sense doesn’t it. I can’t be bothered to change my legal name but I can start with facebook 😉

    On the bannana issue… I once reacted negatively when the poor guy was only trying to help. I badly regret it. The situation was too awkward that I couldn’t get myself to apologize. Luckily seeing him regulary gives me the chance to treat him in the nicest way possible. I think he understands. Whew. Lesson learnt – take it as face value unless 100% sure otherwise. She helped you so it’s difficult to get a full 100% 🙂

    Predictable fiction is what makes me like scifi, mystery and fantasy. I watched Planet of The Apes (the one from decades ago).

    You want ወኔ? የሴት አርበኞች ማህበር comes to mind. ቤተ ክርስትያን ውስጥ አቅራርታ ታገባሃለች It would be the marriage video’s peak moment.


    • tibebe
      Sep 07, 2014 @ 13:07:01

      I too would like to take my mother’s name. Our way of naming is so unjust. Have I told you that my nieces use their mother’s name next to their father’s on their books and exam papers?
      “Eyes and Mist” is a book that has been nominated for the 2014 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. The author’s name is Tariku Abas Etenesh.

      Yes, the girl was nice. Only bad thing about her was that her boyfriend showed up.

      😀 እሷ ስታቅራራ እኔ ደግሞ አበጀሽ አበጀሽ! እላታለሁ


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

wordpress statistics
%d bloggers like this: