stone soup. yedingay shorba

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!

One

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well, this soaks!

11:something: My friends are signing off for the day and warn me of the advent of the rain. I decide to stick around the office.

Just like I thought -all that noise, the skies were bluffing. I go hang out at my distant relatives’.

3:something: I go home. The rains decide to let rip just I make it to the gates. I knock and knock and knock and knock … well you get the idea. Telatachichu endih yidebdeb. Then again, we are supposed to love and pray for our enemies. Seytan endih yidebdeb endalil degmo rain would be a most welcome respite for the devil after spending eons in and around the fire.

Anyway

I call my landlord’s son -his phone is switched off (or as I would learn later, tebelashitual.). I call my landlord -he does not answer (or as I would learn later, his phone was in the jacket which he had taken off).

I am left there, knocking, getting soaked and contemplating figurative applications for my situation. It sure is sad is to make it to the gates, only to get hammered and sickled, in a bad way.

Well, not exactly in a bad way. For one thing, I don’t hate rain that much (though I could take comfort in avoiding it -should I desire to avoid it.) Second, I was feeling very sleepy on the evening stated, that it was like I was carrying my sleep home in a jug, careful not to spill it. But after the debacle, I end up taking a cold shower before bed. It sure beats taking one in the morning. My fascination with the figurative side of thing  continues into the bathroom. This is what it must be like to approach chicks -takes a lot of daring to feel the first few cold drops and then, you don’t want to get out.

Sad.

Our dog joins me at the door. He is urging me to be more assertive in my knocking and get us out of the frigging rain,puh leeze! Next thing, he is suggesting the names of people whom I should be calling.

“Son of a bitch! Can’t you see me doing just that?”

One

The son whom I was telling you about, he makes me feel old. We are very cool in the house but if I happen on him when he is chilling with his chums, he gets visibly uncomfortable, the way we were made uncomfortable when meeting our parents or elders on our way back from school with friends.

That, right there, is  the kind of shit that makes one think if one is of a different generation from these kids;

That, right there, is the kind of shit to make one feel like a dinosaur;

The kind of shit that makes one think whether one should say sayonara to T-shirts and take to wearing  tweed jackets.

And most of them are taller than me -what’s up with that? You know I don’t like looking up to people.

And the kid doesn’t even like Tupac! I mean, isn’t digging Tupac an integral part of being hip? That is, unless Tupac has suddenly went out of style and has been supplanted by the likes of Eminem (and mind you, not the bangin’ Eminem of old, but Eminem who is not afraid or is fond of lying), Chris Brown and an assortment of dudes.

People, we have gotten old! A generational chasm has been created; a chasm so wide that, if you filled it up with the water I took in last night, could float ocean liners.

I gave the kid prominent songs of the big five, kind of hit him with the real heat: Hit‘em Up -Tupac; Notorious Thugs -Biggie and Bone Thugs  n Harmony; Ether -Nas; Renegade -Jay Z and Eminem. His response  -tepid at best.

Man, I remember when back in tenth grade, a certain Dagmawi (who used to wear the jersey of some famous basketball player) reported to the class that the Notorious Big has been shot in retaliation for killing Tupac Amaru Shakur. I had never heard before that moment of those two dead people (I think Dagmawi went on to add that, Tupac may actually be alive, somewhere, biding his time-apparently 7 years-to make his big come back) but it didn’t take me long to realize that they were important people and that our lives would never be the same again after their demise.

But try telling today’s kids about Tupac and Biggie and they will act like you are Alemayehu Eshete and you are raving about Elvis Presley and James Brown.

And you are left with shit else for option but to take up the expression “ay yezare lijoch!”

all is not lost

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