"For (land) is the only thing in the world that lasts!. . .'Tis the only
thing worth working for, fighting for, dying for . . .!" So reverberated
Mr.O'Hara's words through Scarlett's
mind, as they do through mine today. It's always been about land; . . . and
I have an old score to settle.
The last time someone got the bright idea to fool around with God's 5-billion
year old Earth to redistribute land to improve the lot of the CHiessNa,
my father (and I by rights of inheritance) ended up losing all of hulet
kurman meret in Alleltu to the half-baked scheme of
What the Derg
in its myopia, had failed to realize was that Regassa was a happy who got to reap what he
sowed, keeping all of 10% of crops thanks to my father's
boundless generosity. As long as he and his family refrained from indulging
in pointless luxuries such as three meals a day, life was better than tolerable.
The proof, of course, was in the eleven children
Mr. Regassa had fathered; . . .quite a remarkable feat and one which he could
not possibly have accomplished on an empty stomach, considering the stealthy
maneuvers he must have had to execute in the dead of night, just to locate
the right woman in the smoke-filled one-room studio that was the gojo,
what with six other females, his daughters, spread-eagled every which way.
It spoke to Mr.Regassa's
sharp sense of orientation, his viagric strength and his Tigab
that he megenaNet-ed
the right woman at least eleven
times, . . . for sure! It would have helped, of course, that
finding his wife was all the foreplay Mr. Regassa would have had
to worry about, and that the missus, free of that modern- mebeshaQet
about headaches and romance, would have readily accommodated him no questions
asked upon his triumphant landing!. . . Ahhhhhhhh! Love-making at its
purest. No ostentatious display of affection, no brazen staring in each other's
eyes, no exploring the depth of each other's soul, . . .and certainly no suri in the
way! . . .Regassa got there? Regassa got it, beQa! A lesson
for foreplay-bound who get there, but
don't get it, because they just don't get it!
And so it was that, when
larashu was proclaimed, the theretofore
contented Regassa held the Negarit GazeTa upside down, fixed his stare
at the general vicinity of the new larashu clause
kedehnaw getayE aleyayuN." The meleyayet from his
beloved sharecropper hit my father equally hard. He tearfully said:
kedehnaw meretE aleyayuN!"
Nearly a quarter of a century later, my father's
words, like Mr.O'Hara's to Scarlett, resound with a strong
echo defying the effects of time. I now feel his pain more than I ever did,
as I find myself locking horns with another beast in a ceaseless
where man's right to personal property is supposedly inviolable.
Granted, it's not exactly miles of wind-tossed
'shet massa; . . . the back -yard,
that is. That, I figure, is more
a reason to fight for every square inch of space. The yard's outer reaches are
exactly twenty-five feet from the rear door before you come face to face with
the snarling neighbor; . . Mechal, a vicious Doberman Pinscher, which
has pinched itself deep into my gut eating away at me day and
night. Sometimes I wonder if Mechal is really a cat endowed with
the proverbial nine lives, because this son-of-a-bitch is living proof that
rat poison doesn't kill.
Yes, . . . Mechal has
become my preoccupation. Every day brings renewed vigor and intensity to my
obsession with reclaiming our land from this racially insensitive rodent, which
is on a hell-bent mission to Jim Crow our movement in our own
yard to within, at least, ten feet of the
picket fence that separates us. Take away ten feet from twenty-five, and you'll
understand my fixation with this dogged dog doggedly restricting our movement
in our own doggone yard. Unable to reach the outer limits of this terribly
limited yard because of Mechal, we are just inches away from claustrophobia.
All attempts to put the miserable creature out of its hateful existence seem
to backfire as with every botched dogicide, Mechal only gets angrier
and angrier, drools from the corners of his snout and g-r-o-w-l-s, . . sort
of mimicking the sister-in-law, whose third "round" of teeth in the
same lifetime have finally succumbed to progressively weakening gums, and .
. . with barely anything to keep them in place, have taken to carrying on in
a curious clicking and grinding entirely on their own, causing the owner to
g-r-o-w-l without intending to! . . .besm’ab!
At least, with Mechal, there is no mistaking his jubilation when he
knows he's gotten your goat, nor his anger when he writhes in excruciating pain
from being inadvertently stabbed in the snout with a l-o-n-g, pointed
object; . . more than you could say for the sister-in-law, I'm afraid. One
is very likely to try and comfort her when she smiles (pleeease, don't) and
laugh out loud when she's distressed. Poor devil! Hard as she
tries, with only a handful of foreign teeth to work with, which, kenesum
aQm, go into a no-holds-barred rebellion with every single encounter
with a sound-wave, she is liable to be misunderstood. Add to that the fact
that one does take sadistic pleasure in misunderstanding her, and there
is practically no communication possible with her.
I say, you don't know a thing about "tooth-induced" speech-impairment
until you've heard the wrong word ricochet off of the wrong tooth and come out
all garbled, because the right tooth for the right word to bounce off of, was
no longer in the right place when the right word looked for it. I'll take my
chances with Mechal, if y'all don't mind!
Of course, thanks to Mechal, I can't even cut the overgrown bushes (dogwood)
along the periphery, without him hurling himself against the fence with such
brute force that self-preservation dictates that I watch from a safe distance.
He means to make a point, and I am inclined to take his bark for it!
. . .And then, as the blood gushes out of his self-inflicted point-making,
he gleefully laps it up and g-r-i-n-s spitefully in my face, . . absolutely
convinced it's my blood! To add insult to injury, Mechal's owners
too have a point of their own to make; . . they look at the overgrown
bushes along the off-limit fence in our yard, shake their heads with utter disgust
and say: "Um, um, um,. . .this neighborhood's sure gone to the dogs !"
Hard to say who the idiot is here! Mechal's owners, who, having transformed
our yard into the "killing fields" in cahoots with an undomesticated
animal, bitch about our overrun yard, or Mechal, who celebrates the spilling
of his own dem all over dog-dom? . . In all fairness to Mechal,
he does have an excuse, and it's in his name: inssessa!
In fact, he may be the epitome of brilliance compared to other inssessat
like them stupid cows in Garrison Keillor's Lake Wobegon Days.
(In the dog-days of summer out in the cornfields of Minnesota, it once got
s-o-o-o hot that the corn started popping; . . .when the cows out in pasture
looked up and saw this white, fluffy popcorn fall back to down to earth, they
thought it was snow, . . and so froze to death! . . . miskeeeen!
Mechal wasn't even there the
day we moved in, but the neighbors, the last hold-outs in a fast-changing proletarian
community, had darted a sneaky glance over the fence just as I had been bringing
in the mesob, wearing it like a gargantuan sombrero in which my
entire body had disappeared;. . . they had seen this colorful object sort of
f-l-o-o-o-a-t into the house, which might have raised an eyebrow, but probably
not much more. After all, the sighting of an UFO alone is never as alarming
as the sighting of the alien that would emerge from it later on! . .
. . . .That was it! They had seen enough!
And so, . . .exactly three days later, voila! There was this full-grown
guard dog threatening to tear down the fence trying to get to the Coloreds;
. . .and then came the ADT-truck. In my quintessentially ItyoPiawi
meekness, it crossed my mind to go over there and allay the fears of these ashafereN-IMBY
(Not In My Back Yard) warriors, but I kept
having recurrent nightmares of Mechal having a dream-moment chasing my
immigrant behind down the American scene, while I chased the American Dream.
So, the verdict was that Mechal had to go, unless, of course, I learned
to mechal the sleep-deprivation from his incessant barking and
the loss of a hundred square feet of landmass that was legally deeded
(did it) to us. ("Loss-of-use" coverage in the
policy? Don't bet on it! Half a page of what is covered followed by
fifteen pages of fine print enumerating 1200 different scenarios that render
even that lonely half a page null and void.)
As my father, God bless him, still bemoans the loss of that hulet kurman
merEt in Alleltu, darn if I'll let some stupid beast cheat us
out of a hundred square feet of rst, which is nothing to sneeze
at in this neck of the woods. Woods? . . . figuratively, of course,
and in the strictest sense, 'cause there ain't no woods around here. Thus,
the closest thing we have to a herd of deer, are the dearly departed
laid out across a sprawling meadow less than half a mile away, headstones skillfully
and deceptively hidden by a rolling hill up front and a beautifully ornamented
wrought-iron fence embracing the splendid grounds. (What a waste, because no
one on the outside is exactly dying to break in and those on the inside
are done with their dying and couldn't break out to save
their souls.) The august entry gate that punctuates the fence on one side is
crowned by a sign that arches from post to post:
". . .he that seeketh, findeth; and
to him that knocketh, it shall be opened."
Hmmmmmmmm! . . . .and, in a slightly larger
lettering below it: Oakwood Cemetery
We had, indeed, caught a passing glimpse of that yeteregeme sign
on our way to see our future yeteregeme home that yeteregeme
Qen, but of course, we had misread it as "Oakwood
Seminary" and had gone on to marvel at the beauty of this, er,
"Seminary", . . its enigmatic presence and the tranquility
that engulfed it. That very evening, we had sat across from each other and
had launched into a profoundly philosophical discussion of the Thornbirds,
. .the heart-rending story of Father Ralph de Bricassart and Meggie, and we
had contemplated the extreme sacrifices expected of those young "Seminarians"
behind the rolling hill.
BalebetE-ma? Ayy yeswa neger,
. . she had been particularly elated and had given thanks for having found a
spot just a stone-throw away from this heavenly place where the Q'dussan
dwelt: "Ediaw yegzE sra, ayyyy yesu sra,
. . ," she had testified. As for me, being within ear-shot of some
"Seminarian" QdassE had not exactly been the
most magical thing in the world, but, sensing her euphoria, I had thought it
the height of cruelty to cut her off from whatever gratification there was to
be derived from it.
And so, as is only fitting a tale born of that
random violence called " selfless fQr " that so many
perfectly domesticated husbands must endure so very often, . . we ended up in
Necropolis, where her "seminary" would necromantically
transform itself into a cemetery overnight; and where Mechal,
a negrophobic nemesis would not rest until I rested (in peace)
behind that rolling hill!
None of this would have happened, of course,
if something unorthodox (literally) hadn't happened to my wife's family
long, long ago; . .something that was bound to come back generations later to
haunt somebody! . . . ME! . . .Her people accepted the Kotelik
faith! Unfortunately, there is no way to tell what thoughts, if any, went
through her forefathers' minds when they became Kotelik
and passed it down to their descendants as if it were the most natural thing
in the world to do.
OK! Maybe the elders didn't know any better, but what about her? In
this day of enlightenment and religious-correctness, the woman still
is . . .a Kotelik! And you thought you had heard it all,
. .hah! . . . Nothing against the Kotelik faith of course, indiaw
negeru new inji! Negeruma-a-a-a? . .It is such an egregious
anachronism that flies in the face of propriety, defying the natural order of
things in good-old-ItyoPiawinet! . . It s-i-m-p-l-y- d-o-e-s
n-o-t fit!. . .And, if it don't fit, one must, . . .what? .
. . t-h-e-r-e-y-o-u-g-o , . . . . . q-u-i-t!
Grimmmmm new mileN yesetiyowa
narrow-mindedness, which I find nothing less than abhorrent. Esti mn
mehonwa new benatachhu ? . . . Me, it is precisely because
I am so broad-minded and tolerant of others' beliefs that I make a point of
being nice to her Kotelik-self, . . . however little she may deserve
it! SEE? . . .And, it is precisely because of my liberalism in such
matters that I got excited right along with her (dess ybelat biyE)
when we found our seffer by the "seminary," where
cool Father de Bricassart in his dog-collar would nurture her soul, while
a cruel color-guard-dog across the color-bar would torture mine.
At the risk of digressing (hey, this IS a carte blanche Issue, remember?)
I would like to issue a disclaimer here (just for the record) to
MemrE Kebede, my nissiha abat, who might
be reading this online. Far be it for me to proselytize, but, as nice as I
am to my Kotelik over here, I remain a Kiristian
through and through!. . . . . .That's it! I don't fool around with nothin'
but the tried and true faith of Orthodox, which God Himself created before
He created Himself, so that He could create Himself an Orthodox!
(Huh?) I ain't takin' no chances with some religion that advocates the
blessing of canine, because that type of a religion is liable to show
up on somebody's recall-list some day when it's too late. No one, and I mean
no one, could ever recall Orthodox, because it's all in Ge'ez
(the Lingua Franca of the Orthodox Church), which no one understands well enough
to fu…, er, tamper with;. . and that is a built-in safe-guard that suits
me just fine, thank you!
Furthermore, as any true Orthodoxawi,
who grew up in GulelE, a typical Orthodox-neighborhood, will testify,
there prevails an understanding among Orthodoxawian, presupposed
by experience, that animals (burakEw Qerto)do not cross
over into the realm of humanity. The very sighting of a dog, for instance,
yezarEn ayargew'na, would do just the right thing for the followers
of the faith by uniting them in the ecclesiastical exercise of tormenting it.
It takes all of the willpower of an Orthodox not to join in as a volley of rocks
are hurled at the animal from all directions by every passer-by. "Beleeeew,
beleeeew, ereee beleeew!" (Mechal wouldn't have malageT-ed
on me like this in GulelE! I'll tell you that!)
Better yet, in Orthodox, very little reproof, if any, is given for killing
a dog, much less for tormenting it! And, if, for some strange reason, one were
to feel guilty about such an act, one would get over it in time entirely
on one's own, because the Orthodox faith does not require one to go to confession
but once a year; . . .another attractive feature, because it provides
an additional measure of protection against self-incrimination. And, even on
that one single afternoon of s’Qlet, where
an Orthodox really, really cleanses his/her soul through an all-out
confession, he/she is permitted to speak in tongues; . . vague euphemistic
expressions that provide considerable latitude for plausible deniability later
on, should the need arise.
When admitting to adultery, for instance, an Orthodox would say: " 'Scuse
me, MemrE Kebede, kalga wediQealehu "
and leave it at that. Not to worry! MemrE Kebede would know exactly
what was meant. It was with his blessing that the husbands of Alleltu
had ridden off into the battle of MaiCHew some decades back and, . .
.while they had fallen off of their horses to preserve the way-of-life, MemrE
Kebede had fallen off their beds having had his way with their wives.
And, to the heathens, who had the temerity to question his loving treatment
of the women-folk in Alleltu, MemrE Kebede had later responded:
"Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry: for anger resteth in
the bosom of fools!" . . . Alleltu's wives, of course, had nodded
in collective agreement, had looked at their husbands with out-and-out contempt,
and had followed MemrE's lead in calling them: "Fools!"
(Ah, MemrE Kebebe, Lover . . . . .of God!). . .
Say what you may about him, the good-QEss knew how to wiggle
out of a sticky situation; . . .he knew his Bible, and words of wisdom flowed
from his lips inde mar-wolelea.
He, unlike my Kotelik wife, who, in strict adherence to the dogma,
believes in blessing dogs at a special mass, would have understood my
indignation with Mechal. If MemrE were around, in one fell swoop,
he would have put my manic fixation with a menacing mad dog in the right perspective.
He would have said it was "preordained," and he would have explained
to me how it all came down to the issue of faith; . . . that there was very
little secular about my shikucha with Mechal!
My manifest destiny! To spend the rest of my days in canine hell, . . .ALONE,
. . . for choosing a life of religious dualism, where God and His blessed name
in reverse, . . . Good and Evil are constantly at loggerheads. The Good: I
want to kill the dog! . . .The Evil: She wants to bless it! . . .
" EregeN," MemrE would have observed: "Eessuma
wusha mibariku? BeNa haimanot, dmet enna mesenQo inji, wusha enna
krarima irkuss aydel?” . . Unlike my blessed wife, on
whose account I put myself in this blessed mess in the first place, MemrE
would have strengthened my resolve to persist in my struggle with Mechal,
and thus, against all the SerE-Orthodoxawi Evil that has befallen
the land; . . ah, back to the land, my land,. . the only thing
worth dying for!
"Mechal'nima mechal deg aydolem, dog-amed mareg neyi-i-i-i-i,"
MemrE would have urged and, true to his word, he would have been there
for me to the bitter end. Moreover, l’merEtu, l’haimanotu,
. . . if I were to fall in my brawl with Mechal, MemrE
would be there again, . . . to comfort my survivor; . . .to fall off of
my bed ???
God-dog-it! Can't win for losing!