chekolk!? You've already put us on opposite sides,
hodE. Ere tew, yQr! Perhaps we're not quite at
the point of holding hands and singing the Internationale in harmony,
but why not put our heads together to get through this incredibly complicated
situation, to use your words? Besides, I didn't even know we had to choose
sides -- did I miss the "ye bud'n-na ye bud'n abatoch"
call while I was mellowing out with a glass of this excellent Shiraz? You HAVE
to taste it -- here...take a sip. Run your tongue around it -- bemotE,
take another sip. Yes, it may not have the pure genealogy cherished among its
more snooty French competitors, but damn! it tastes good.
Okay, back to your imagery of the
tree, which was magnificent! I'll even admit looking up above my head carefully
as I was reading to see whether one of those dead twigs with kurkum
on its mind was headed my way. But no tree in Ethiopia, or anywhere else
for that matter (note to self: Self, remember to get into the lie behind the
American claim that there are no class issues in the US)...no tree in Ethiopia
would have its branches occupied randomly. Oh, no! There would be some diabolic
There would be those above, stripping
the smaller branches to fashion a well-shaped mefaQya or two --
how else could they dislodge the tender remnants of the TrE sga
they had so recently consumed? Their belches (subdued behind polite hands)
would still be audible to those below who probably have some idea what that
meal was like, having had a few occasions to partake of it themselves. They
may even have been on one of those higher branches not too long ago. The savvy
among them will have learned how to duck the flying mefaQyas and
whatever else comes down from the upper reaches of that tree.
And lowest on that pecking order
are those who have no choice but to sit...how to say this delicately...in the
ugly mess that comes from all things that have a way of flowing downstream,
aided by that medebun-yalsheTe adhari called gravity. Mnabatu!
Couldn't it let things flow up for a change? Quite often, those at the
bottom never really get to see the sunlight and fresh air enjoyed by those above;
all they get to do is to watch the endless trapeze acts: Higher-Brancher deposed
to lower level; Lower-Brancher shaking off higher one from coveted perch above
-- over and over again. Those observing in the middle just learn to do the
artful dodge, sometimes reaching up to snag a li'l somethin' for themselves.
Oddly, though, it's all in the name of those in the stinky mess at the bottom.
aydele? Serves you right for the tree metaphor. I have one
last comment on that before I move on. You do a grand disservice to our older
siblings when you "credit" them with chopping down the tree. From
my own personal conversations with some of the surviving revos,
they were particularly concerned that the tree was rotting so quickly that it
was going to fall anyway -- their futile attempts were, therefore, to try to
find a quick and dirty way to either aim its fall or avert it completely by
cutting off the top. I agree with you that they were sadly misguided; what
I disagree with vehemently is the implication that somehow the tree, aside from
a few dead twigs and wilting leaves, was healthy at its roots.
What to do!? I am a believer in
many trees -- with all of us free to frolic from one branch here to another
branch there instead of trying to find a precarious foothold on an aging warka
somewhere. Someone (say, you) might opt for the gnarly baobab, more roots than
branches, majestic in its obvious preference for solid longevity over leafy
cover. I, on the other hand, have always loved the thorny lemon tree...protective
of its fruit, tart at the first bite but delicious to those who taste more intensely,
with fragrant leaves able to reach across to sooth the most frazzled nerves.
Why should any of us have to choose?
Wiy! Even I'm all
tree'd out. On to other things. (Before I move on, though, a little feta cheese
on some crusty bread? Earthy and pungent, unlike its more genteel cousins the
Camemberts, but ah! truly scrumptious, especially with some black olives and
sun-dried tomatoes.) Ere yaz! As they say, nkwan feta'na
I was hoping you would help me understand
what to do with this feeling of being marginalized -- sadly, though, I sense
you have little sympathy for my predicament. I haven't been a Buddhist for
very long (actually, not before I started this sentence), but suddenly I feel
like taking the path of least resistance; maybe...who knows...you'll see things
my way in the end. But in the meantime, the challenge at the end of your letter
intrigues me. I'm one of those AddisAbés who never had the Hilton
membership, nor did I ever want to brave the Ghion pool's legendary CHrt,
so I never learned how to swim -- my motto, therefore, was always "yemn
swimming?! Ayyyyy! w'ha'na Tela bebrCHiQo." But
I am too tempted by your come-n-get-down-and-dirty T'ree, so move
on over and let me slide into that murky pool with you. Hmmmm...it's
all squishy at the bottom...oddly liberating once you get over the shock of
seeing your whiter-than-white whites all gooey with this mud. I could learn
to like this. Those wealthy lily-white-folk are paying loads of money for this
type of all-over treatment so, if nothing else, my skin will get all the exfoliating
Shall we toast the demise of my
Observer status with a chilled glass of Veuve Cliquot? What? You're surprised
by my choice? Hey, even I know there's no substitute for good French champagne.
Your conciliatory splash into the murky pool has made the nature of this exchange
a little more intricate. Since you are now right next to me, it is no longer
possible for me to wag my forefinger at you from across the river or make declarations
from the pulpit. All of a sudden, I understood what Emperor Haile Selassie must
have felt when, in the early years of the restoration (early 1940s), he included
members of the Resistance, former collaborators (a.k.a. bandas) and colleagues-in-exile
on his cabinet. I understood the wisdom of cohabiting with individuals with
extremely varied histories, ideologies and ethics. It buys you three and a half
decades of relative tranquility.
But I am not too happy with this adult world into which you've siphoned me.
Yes, I know. I am the one who invited you to join me in the pool. But you were
supposed to scoff at the challenge. You were not supposed to join willingly.
If, according to my earlier plan, you had decided to join, it would have been-in
my wonderfully smug and overbearing mind, at least-because of defeat, attrition
or sycophancy. All of a sudden, I understood what post-war Addis Abeba planners
must have felt when the city they planned for a million inhabitants became populated
by five million. Yes, you have literally ruined the plan.
You see, Alemitu, I wanted to revel in the adolescent world of pure ideals
and moral righteousness. I wanted to virtually experience the binary universe
that our older sisters and brothers sailed in before the mess that was the revolution.
I wanted to provoke you into heated exchanges in order for me not reflect on
the holes and inadequacies of my own position and lines of argument. In other
words, I had amassed my troops for a showdown at the OK Corral.
But you, Alemnesh (or should I call you-after all this is the Class issue-in
the spirit of the revo years, ashaTreNa navigator?),
dexterously uncoiled a rope and took the wind out of my sail.
All right, I am ready. We can now both sweat it out in the doldrums.
First, let me briefly rewind back to the tree. (Alie, do not take the tree
metaphor lightly. Eve, nefswan yemarewina yeNa enat, messed with
a teensy-weensy fruit on that tree and got the rest of us in trouble. Let's
get it right this time around.)
Yes, (pray forgive this tired and overused allusion to Orwell's Farm) some
branches were better off than other branches. No doubt. But our elder siblings
("Enough already!" they exclaim from Purgatory. "Hold on, bro.
Hold on, sis. Not so easily," I reply from sidet in America) could not
realize what, you, with one sweep of your practical wand, made manifest. One
doesn't improve one's lot by chopping down the tree. In fact, our glorious history
is plagued with the one-tree paradigm syndrome. Succeeding leaders/generations
have been content only when they've destroyed the legacy of their predecessors.
As you've already pointed out in our last entry, there is already a lot of belches
and cacas to go around with one tree, but can you imagine growing one tree generation
after generation when the population gets bigger and hungrier?
It is now no longer wise or beneficial to cut any tree. Can you not see from
the pool below? We have not improved our lot because of our obsession with a
single tree. You are right. The warca for some of us was extremely
comfortable. But, if the warca, alas, is no longer around, then-
if it tickles our fancy-we could start planting baby warcettes.
And, as you've noted, a wide range of trees is available to us. Yes, at times
the land may be inhospitable or the reigning cactus may be rapacious and belligerent
(a deadly combo) and not allow other trees to grow nearby. If that is the case,
we should rent some space across the river and start planting in greenhouses.
One of these days there will be abundant rainfall that will force the cactus
to hibernate. Our willow, banyan, magnolia, deodar, fig tree, mimosa, hemlock,
walnut, rubber tree, olive, mango, gum tree, acacia, cedar, pine, elm, lime,
teak, redwood, and coconut saplings will be ready.