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by: R.A.


My Ethiopia
My origin
My Ethiopian-ness
My memories and future dreams

Even if my origin is continents away and the memories sketchy I have my dreams and self-dialogue to convince me

On the days of muted dialogue
There are my feelings
Strong and unrelenting
Leaving me no choice but to believe that I have a patriotic duty
To go back, give back
That my people may even need me

As we all say, my plan is to return home eventually. But I sense at the lowest depth of my being, at the highest ranking of my most basic human need, truthfully, I want to return home for my own sake, for my own sanity

I want to see the land that was witness to my birth
I hunger for the land that fed my first thought
I yearn to listen to the land that echoed my first word
I thirst for the land that absorbed my first tear
And I can no longer wait to meet the guardian of half my spirit

You see, truthfully, I just want to feel the contentment and simplicity that comes from saying — I am home…I belong

In the meantime tonight, I meet my Ethiopia, my Ethiopian-ness, my origin, my memories, my dreams and my people through images and sounds in the form of a narrative. You see, while destiny is defined by circumstance and identity masked with foreign layers, my longing is only accessible through a documentary on American television.

While I sit wrapped in my gabi and life’s irony, sipping my qmem tea, a stranger’s voice tells and shows me how grand her history, how ancient her ways, how strong her faith, how proud her people, how fascinating her landscape…

Oblivious that my spirit has traveled
I sway between laughter and tears
Completely lost in the act of virtual belonging.

Illusion and reality, however, abruptly mark their boundaries, this time predetermined by a television network schedule, and as I recover from the trip, slowly making sure that my life’s truth returns to its underground home, I ask myself for the thousandth time. How long will it be until I am home? When exactly did this voluntary exile turn into a bar-less prison without my permission?

"Is it the comfort," I ask myself? But it seems my spirit is chronically tired.

"Could it be the money?" It can’t be. Making ends meet seems like the style of living

"Is it peace, security?" Then, I remember September 11…when red, white and blue didn’t serve as a protective measure.

What a life I lead, I say to myself, as I fall asleep wiping away my tears. Half the time spent making a stranger’s land feel like home; the other half vowing not to let go of my real home… And as night gives way to another day, I return seemingly confident to the notion of my Ethiopia; and my Ethiopian-ness; and my origin; and my people; and my memories; and my dreams; and…

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