For Part 1, click here ... /dec00/bole_turns.shtml
For Part 2, click here ... /jan01/bole_turns.shtml
For Part 3, click here ... /feb01/bole_turns.shtml
"Ye serawit yaleh!" muttered Diffabachew from the background,
mulling in his mind how he could spread this piece of hot news around 18th street.
Shuruuba seemed unperturbed.
"Zewditu… so we finally meet again," Fifi said turning her attention
to her estranged sister. Zewditu glared back at her. "Gashiye Raselas is
our real father."
Waiting impatiently for the elevator on the fifth floor of the ICU was Dr.
Dagnachew. A strapping man with typical Ethiopian good looks, Dr. Dagnachew
was the hospital’s youngest chief-of-cardiology in-training. He was paged to
head to the emergency room but the hideously slow elevator was sorely testing
When he was growing up in Addis, Dagnachew had had dreams of being the sefer
wefCHo bEt astenagaj. But his mother, a widowed nurse’s
assistant at Zewditu hospital, had grander plans for him and his younger brother.
She worked three jobs to send them both to private school, and drummed into them
that they were going to be successes, or else…
Whenever Dagnachew and his younger brother, Mesob, complained about the hard-knocks tactics of their mother, or when gurmissina would tempt them to defy her, she would cry inconsolably. Then, like clockwork, she would invoke the name of their dead father (word is that he stumbled and split his head open after a night of heavy drinking at TEtE YeshashwerQ’s famous zigubN, but the official story is that he died of bi’ird), and scream to UraEl, the family’s patron saint, to kill her right on the spot.
“UUUUUUUUraElllll….. merEtun senTiQeh wusedeN!” she would say, beating her chest. She would run in and out of their four-room house throwing a fistful of dirt on herself, and holding her hands up in the air. “InnE simot sew tihonalachihu!” she’d yell at the two terrified boys. (The ritual was the same except for when she occasionally deviated to faking a heart attack and pretending to dictate her last words to a mortified Dagnachew.)
Young Dagnachew and Mesob would dutifully run to their mother’s bosom and all three would cry. The boys would concur with their mother that diablilos had tempted them, and they would do a better job of resisting. Eventually, their mother, after making sure both were sufficiently contrite, would wipe her tears and push them off her. “Hidu Tifu! ZarE UraEl semtwachihuwal, ” she’d say, and shoo them off with a warning that their next indiscretion might just be the last straw for UraEl and she might just drop dead. As a peace offering to UraEl, their mother would suggest to the red-eyed boys, perhaps they should clean the house and wash her feet. After all, that UraEl was a very hygienically astute Tabot.
Both Dagnachew and Mesob lived in eternal fear that at any moment UraEl would smite them and take their mother. And they did not want to be orphans. They knew what happened to orphans. According to ItiyE (that's what they called their mother), orphans would be immediately sent to the Palace, have their right eye gauged out and their left arm amputated, and be sold as indentured servants to the Emperor.
So it was with due diligence that both boys became over achievers, the cloud of possibly killing their mother haunting them. They excelled in high school and got accepted at Ivy League colleges, and went into medicine and law.
Dagnachew’s hit the lit “down” elevator button again. He hated being in DC! He hated this hospital! He hated the elevator…. His chirping cell phone interrupted his thought process. Damn. It wasn’t his work cell phone. It was the “other” phone. He flipped it open in resignation.
“Dehna walsh ItiyE,” Dagnachew said quietly.
“Ante! Mn biyEh neber?” his mother, Weizero BizuwerQ TassE said curtly.
“YiQrta. ‘Hi, Mammy’ MaletE neber.”
It has been six years since Wzro. BizuwerQ came to the United States to be with her sons. She insisted Dagnachew move from Minnesota, where he had a thriving private practice, to DC where she wanted to have a thriving social circle. Once in DC, Wzro. BizuwerQ approached with supreme deftness the task of establishing herself as the center of the Ethiopian-women-over-60 society.
She soon became known simply as Bibi, and started to host “Judge Judy” bunna parties. An invitation to Bibi’s was a coveted affair for the azawint women of metropolitan DC. Especially for those who back home had worked three plus jobs to “sew madreg” their children and who now wanted to reap the benefits. They were the new aristocrats, these women of affluent children. They went to the hairdresser’s every Tuesday, had their nails done on Wednesdays, and had lunch at Addis Ababa Restaurant every Thursday. They never cooked weT anymore, and knew how to speed dial a “ahun be-DV yemeTach” underling to commission dinner parties. At Bibi’s famous bunna soirees the favorite game was one-upping each other about their children’s achievements, and getting the low-down on the “other” mothers whose sons and daughters were stuck as Parkiologists.
Wzro. BizuwerQ wanted a house, so Dagnachew moved to a house in Maryland. (She would not live in Virginia where “yemanim minamintEwoch” lived.) And she wanted a big brick house like the one in BolE, where she worked as a part time domestic when Dagnachew’s (she and her friends call him “Daggi” now) school fees were due.
Life was good. Wzro. BizuwerQ was loved by the right people, and, most importantly, was hated by the right people. That’s the measure of good social standing in DC: which people hated you. Often it was more important who hated you than who liked you.
The only regret these days for Wzro. BizuwerQ was naming her second son Mesob. She refers to those days as her “alemaweQ” days, as opposed to the present “brhan” days. His name was a constant reminder of times back in Ethiopia, when she didn’t even know what a self-cleaning oven was. M’Ts. Mayalff neger yele! Those were the days when she burned herself over an open fire while making injera. Now, her son, the Doctor, had paid for a skin grafting and she was on a twice-a-day alpha hydroxy program to help fade the scars and the madiyat under her eyes.
But still it lingered… that memory of having to live on 50 birr a month. And one day, she decided to take care of it once and for all. She dialed Mesob’s special “Mammy phone” and had him pull out of a big meeting to tell him that he was going to have to change his name if he cared an iota about her. Mesob was stunned. He rather liked his name. But Wzro. BizuwerQ was adamant. She couldn’t exactly call him Mesob any more. People would make fun of her, and it brought up memories of a past she no longer was a part of. Besides, she paused dramatically, had she not suffered enough? Has she not worked three jobs to feed the family? Had she not pleaded with UraEl not to give her a heart attack before her children could meTor her? Has she not…
Mesob could not handle the guilt. Much to his assistant’s consternation, he burst into tears right there outside the boardroom. “Eshi… eshi ItiyE,” he whispered nodding furiously as he wiped his nose with his Dolce & Gabbana tie.
“Ma?” Wzro. BizuwerQ said curtly again.
The next morning Mesob cancelled all his meetings and headed to City Hall with his mother to fill out the “Change of Name” paperwork. Two weeks later he was officially known as…Mel. It pleased Wzro. BizuwerQ. Now, if only her sons could remember to call her Mammy instead of ItiyE! It embarrassed her so.
Dr. Dagnachew was relieved when the elevator finally opened on his floor. He pressed the Emergency Room button while he cradled the “Mammy” phone in his shoulders. His mother was complaining about how their TV was not as “ay definishin” as her friend, Wzro. Tsehainesh’s a.k.a. “Sunny”.
Dr. Dagnachew sighed in despair. He probably was the only cardiologist strapped for cash. He was already mortgaged to the hilt with the seven-bedroom house in the ton-y suburbs of Maryland. His mother insisted on having maid service, but could not be satisfied with one, so they had to have two. Her best friend and fierce competitor, Wzro. Trumeaza’s son, a VP at a big computer firm, drove a BMW, therefore Dr. Dagnachew had to get one. In red. His mother’s favorite color. Also, Wzro. Demam’s son just got his masters. Wzro. BizuwerQ insisted her son take night classes to get a Masters. She was flexible on the type of Masters, she told him, but she preferred something in business. But any Masters would do. She was tired of being the only one at the Jerry Springer bashes at Wzro. Mulushewa’s (“Lulu”) penthouse whose child had no Masters.
At the other side of town, Wadi looked in the mirror just one more time before he left his uncle’s apartment. The Tommy jeans were in place, hanging on for dear life from mid-hip, the smooth suede boots, and of course the eternal leather jacket bulked up his frail figure, adding a couple more inches to his shoulders. Anyone else might have thought that Wadi had been working out … but schemin’ ol’ Wadi knew that wasn’t true. He winked at the image in the mirror, flashing his best sly, come-and-get-with-me, smile at himself. “Oooh, ye’igzer yaleh, zare ye’DC setoch hulu aytewugn yabdalu!” Tsk … vanity … one of the seven deadly sins …
“Gashe Habtamu, hEjalew. Bye, peace, one love, keep it real!” He hollered, all in one breath, as if yeweret neger hono, he felt compelled to spew forth all these phrases before someone stole them from the tip of his tongue. His middle-aged uncle just growled from the bedroom, shaking his head and sucking his teeth in resignation.
NeTer, neTer … inTaT, inTaT … Wadi strolled out the Sherwood apartments, one of the Southern Towers, also dubbed Gojjam Berenda, right in the middle of Alexandria. It was almost dark, with a chilly wind catching wendata Wadi slightly off guard. He popped his jacket collar up and walked towards the car that was waiting for him a couple of feet away, while inadvertently wallowing dreamily in the reeking scent of his uncle’s cologne he bathed in. (Note to readers: Commercial aphrodisiacs are really just a marketing ploy. Those corporate irkusoch are just taking advantage of your raging libido … just thought we’d share). It was Wadi’s first night out since he came to this neck of the woods three months ago. The evening was about to start, and the night was yet to follow. It was going to be his best birthday night… .
The ’95 Accord was packed with sweaty people crammed in the backseat, but somehow, with some relocating and dislodging of imposing body parts, Wadi snuggled in between two overly made-up girls who both turned around and looked at him:
“Temecheh, yene Qonjo?” … “Are you okayyyyy, bro?”
“Eh? Awo. I’m fine. Enantes?” He looked at one and the other, nervously, slightly fidgeting, his toes curling inside his shoes. The one on his right gave him an ear to ear grin, her teeth smudged from the heavy lipstick she had meledefed on her lips.
“Yeah, I’m cool. Selam ibalalehu.” She introduced herself, smiling again, unaware of the crude blotches of burgundy that made her teeth look like they were wearing yellow-and-red camouflage jackets.
“Wussup, Wad!” the guy driving the car screamed from the front seat, trying to outdo the thumping decibels of the stereo. “Happy Birthday, man! Everybody, that’s my boy Wadi; Wadi this is everybody! TetewaweQu, abo! Zare bedemb new get down bakachihu. We garra celebrate my boy’s birthday tonight, y’all!” He laughed almost like a madman, speeding out to I-395, heading out to the eagerly awaiting, sweaty palms of DC.
“That’s a nice name,” said Selam, still flashing her disarming smile. “Is that your real name, weyis QiTSil sim neger new?”
“Well, it’s not my real name,” Wadi muttered, still uncomfortable. He despised where this conversation was headed.
“Tadia won’t you tell me your real name?” She batted her eyes and pouted her lips, flirtatiously fronting her kurfia look.
“Min yiseralishal, nefse?” He was now laughing nervously, his face flushed with fever from shame.
“EEECH, beQa tewewa! Yemanew, benatachihu!” Aggravated, she looked past him to the girl sitting on his other side and started up another conversation, disregarding his existence.
Binyam, the guy behind the wheel, looked at Wadi through the rear-view mirror, giving him a what-the-hell-do-you-think-you’re-doing look. Wadi totally understood the look, and nodded like a good student. Taking a deep breath, and a whiff of the sweat/cologne/tobacco/QiTela-QiTel odor that infested the interior of the car, he braved onwards.
“Endee, QeldEn neber eko, yene Qonjo,” he said, staring dead into Selam’s eyes. “I didn’t mean to make you mad, hodé. My real name is Awahid.” He mustered up the most convincing smile he could.
The girl sitting to his other side giggled. “Awahid? Kemirih new?”
Selam herself couldn’t help but laugh. She burst out in a cruel fit of laughter, rocking back and forth, while wendim Wadi realized that her stained teeth were looking uglier and uglier every time she shamelessly maskakated at every funny and not-even-remotely-amusing opportunity.
Wadi looked helplessly at Binyam’s eyes through the rearview mirror, as if saying, “Help me out, buddy. IyesaQubign eko new, benatih.” But no help was coming his way, as Binyam himself started convulsing in fits of laughter right along with everyone else in the packed car.
“Awahid ma? What’s your father’s name?” asked someone else in car, while Binyam further roared in laughter, knowing what was coming next.
“Adefriss,” said Wadi softly, looking at his feet, rock-bottom in embarrassment, a lump growing exponentially in his throat. Weyne ine miskinu! And I thought habeshoch in America were hospitable and nice to addis meCHiwoch … mTs ... meQeleja yargugn!?
Awahid Adefriss now became the sole object of ridicule, the car rocking from side to side from uproarious fits of laughter from its cruel, shameless inhabitants, while wud Wadi squirmed into his cocoon, decidedly sticking out like a sore thumb from the let’s-mock-and-make-merry crowd he thought he’d always wanted to be a part of.
Fifteen minutes later, the gang was walking side-by-side around Adams Morgan, blocking the entire sidewalk, while Wadi stood on the outside, twisting his ankle once in a while as his foot kept fumbling against the curb. He tried his best to keep up with the pace of this crowd, throwing in a faux-laugh now and again at their crude, lewd, tasteless jokes. Wadi even attempted some of his own jokes, but they failed miserably, much to the delight of this slew of predators. And yes, Awahid was the prey for the night … the one who would have to take in all the insensitive jabs and brutal mockeries from this ruthless breed of a so-called “nouveau-elite ne’uss kebertEwoch”.
They were about to enter a dark, little nondescript looking hole in the wall that dared call itself a coffee shop, when Wadi heard someone call out his name from across the street. He knew the voice very well from somewhere, and upon looking intently at the face behind the voice, he realized it was a friend from the good old days of sixth grade at Bole Hibreteseb Melestegna Huletegna Dereja Timhirt Bet. Yup, it was Hailu.
Wadi neglected the present company that was staring at him oddly, wondering who in the hell this new kid might possibly know on this side of the Atlantic. Selam and her friend’s shukshukta and giggling drove the group into another wave of laughs and snorts.
Yet abatachew, thought Wadi, as he started crossing the street towards Hailu to say hello.
“Weyneeeeee! Shiiiiit! Qess bel!” screamed Selam after Wadi, her eyes bilTiT bilew in sheer shock, as she witnessed the horrible … an ambulance iyekenefe simeTa, headed straight for the frail figure of Wadi that was inTaT inTaT-ing furiously towards the other side of the street.
The ambulance driver was daydreaming his way to the young wife that he had made his own only a week ago. He was sick and tired of the job, and couldn’t wait to go back home, snuggle up next to his sweetness. Maybe he should look into a new job. He was oblivious to the street, as his foot continued getting heavier on the accelerator.
In the back of the ambulances, paramedics tended to the ihhih-malet and maQaset of Wzro. Sebebyelesh. Poor old lady just got hit with her first heart attack. One of the medics tried to keep the poor woman calm, but no, Wzro. Sebebu’s frail figure was nothing short of getting up and spitting furious shilela in the face of this miserable phenomenon called “heart attack.”
“Oooof, wey mekeraye. Wey TaTa! Weyne liben! TeQaTelku! Ihhihhhh … Yet abatu, dirashun new yemaTefaw doktoriyeee, yihen mezezeNa beshita,” she kept growling under her breath, while mercilessly squeezing the living daylights out of the medic’s arm, cutting off all circulation to his hand.
The newly-wed amboolans-shofer didn’t pay any mind to the frail fellow crossing the street, as he sped right along, hitting Awahid with a bone-crunching slam that sent the miskin flying across the street, where he landed at the foot of the same people that were mocking him, in a disturbing pile of blood, broken bones, and mangled, torn clothes.
Screaming in fear and disgust, the let’s-mock-and-make-merry crowd ran from the spot as if Armageddon was around the corner, headed for them.
The crash, jolted Woizero Sebebu from the stretcher in the back of the ambulance, as the poor old lady let out a howl shrill enough to snap anyone’s spine down to little crumbs. She fell back onto the stretcher with a gasp, her forehead flooded with beads of sweat.
“Mn nuro new yihE?” she asked God.
“What the hell was that?” hollered one of the medics, craning out her neck from the back of the ambulance.
“Huh? Oh, nothing, I guess … must’ve been a pothole or something,” replied the driver, waking up from his short reverie, totally oblivious of the hell that had just broken lose outside.
One of the on-lookers of the ambulance hit-and run was Ermias, a thin 40-ish man who still looked exactly like the guerilla fighter he was in the 70’s. He left Ethiopia via Sudan in 1981 and finally ended up in DC. He might have changed countries four times, but not his looks. He still had a scraggly beard with empty patches riddled in it. His afro was dated, and he still wore fatigues and chain smoked.
But the central thing that never changed in Ermias’ life was his devotion to and staunch support of communism. He remained a firm believer that if only he were in power to lead the revolution… oh, Ethiopia would be a Marxist heaven today. Every one would wear red pant-suits; no one would be allowed to eat Tre sga (except the ruling fathers’ i.e. the “revolutionary guiders” who needed to keep their strength up) and all things American would be banned from society (except maybe baseball for the few who knew the game.)
Ermias loved nothing better than lazy days spent talking about the proletariat and the lumpenproletariat; the Mensheviks and the Bolsheviks; anarchism and agnosticism.
He never got married because he thought it would hinder his ability to lead the revolution, but he did have a string of relationships with mostly non-Ethiopian women who did not ask many questions. He ended his last relationship with a blonde named Mary-Sue just a few days ago because she refused to name their love child Lenin. He told her he never wanted to see her again, labeled her a Sere AbiyoteNa, and reunited with his previous lover, a pretty Puerto Rican woman named Rosa, who he lovingly maQolameTed as “Izvestia”. She had borne him two sons, Karl and Ché.
Ermias was very sure that the intricate conspiracy of the reviled ruling class was keeping him from the managerial position at Happy Hamburgers. He was still at the fries counter, and by God, it was simply unacceptable! He was convinced that people who had not even read Trotsky's “ABCs of Materialist Dialectics” should not be ruling his life. … Well, he had not read it either. Not in its entirety, but at least he was in the middle of the Cliff Notes. He kept trying to organize the French Fries department to form a union, but Shreenika and Treshon, his fellow friers, had little time for his rantings about the Asiatic mode of production, and the only chains they wanted to lose were the fake gold ones their significant others had tried to pass off on them as real 14 karat ones.
Ermias had had several heart-to-hearts with Dr. Raselas and the other frequenters of the Café on 18th street. He often called Dr. Raselas and Co. “ye sefiew hzb TenQ'na Telatoch” and “ye inat Ityopia Tut nekashoch”, and they called him “aram”. They usually offered to buy him a cup of coffee out of yiluNta, and he usually accepted out of yiluNta. But that didn’t stop him from assuring them that the “real” revolution was coming, and he would lead it to its final glory.
“Inanten ayargeN,” he would say to the people around him as he sipped on the ye-gibzha buna. “Ye medeb tiglu yiQeTilal…”
“Ye CHiQunu… ye lab aderu…”
“Aram. Buna yiCHemerilih?”
Ermias hated everything capitalist except his rent-subsidized apartment. And the “Dollar Days” sales at Wal Mart. And the Tbs at Awash. Other than that he was fully ready to call for armed struggle against the capitalists and petty-bourgeois pacification sEra of the working class. Even though he was on temporary disability for suffering burns from an over-heated French fry machine, Ermias still considered himself part and parcel of the working class. And as soon as his disability and workman’s comp checks ran out, he would re-start the revolution. In the meantime, he had a stalwart presence on all Ethiopian email lists and left-wing Ethiopian Associations. “I have never met a socialist I have not liked; or a communist I have not worshipped,” was his favorite saying. When asked why he didn’t go back to Ethiopia to fight, Ermias always snapped back that he is trying to foment “real” Marxist from the 18th Street crowd before going back. And, er, someone needed to fund the revolution. His last fundraiser for the Hizbawii, be-hEresebawii Scientific Socialist Ethiopia Party was a disaster. The few young people who showed up had heard that someone was giving out “opium to the people”.
Ermias ran to where Wadi was lying flat. “U! U! U!’ he screamed. “Arise the working class! Will we take this lying down? The capitalist oppressors are mowing us down. It is the dawn of a new era, fellow CHiQuns. We either all die in unison for the Worker’s Party, or we let them chain us down with feudo-capi-bizbeza!”
“Feudo-capi-bizbeza” was Ermias’ favorite self-coined phrase next to “colono-dialectic propaganda.”
Wadi’s friends stared at Ermias.
“Who dat krraaaazzziii brotha?” asked one of them.
“I think he is the aram from the coffee store.”
When his work cell rang, Dr. Dagnachew briefly closed his eyes with unashamed relief. “Mammi, I have to go. MehEd AlebiN,” he said, trying hard to keep the delight out of his voice by disguising it with professional urgency. “B’hwla idewililishalehu!” He pressed the End button and stared at the Mammi-phone as though it were a spitting viper. He contemplated shutting it off to ward off any more “Mammi emergency calls,” but thought better of it as he knew his Sinot for that little action might keep him busy until the Ethiopian millennium dawned.
The insistent chirping of his work cell finally broke through his budding “Mammy” anxiety attack and he flipped the tiny phone open and barked into it: “Dr. Daggi…I mean…Dr. Dagg,” he said, clenching his jaw at the slip. Key words… “emergency room” and “cardiac arrest,” filtered though his self-flagellation moment and he said, “I’ll be right there,” with automatic authority and headed down the blue corridor that led to the ER.
Dr. Dagnachew walked in on what he liked to refer to as hospital-hell, a scene that occurred weekly on that very popular TV show, ER, where blood tended to gush like red syrup from a fire hose. Only, today, it was happening in his ER in what appeared to be a surreal episode where all the patients and extras were played by Ethiopians. There were no less than three Ethiopians on Gurneys, in various stages of ailments, and a growing horde of spectators, mostly made up of Ethiopian civilians and hospital staff, drawn there by the shrill U-U-tEs of an elderly Abesha man who was alternately declaring that he was a doctor and that no nurse shall touch him. Finally, the man hiccuped into stunned silence when an elegant woman who looked like she spent a considerable amount of money and time in preserving her looks, leaned up from her Gurney and let her bete-menghist eyes draw open large and pool with sentimental tears.
As the two just-this-side-of-azawint-hood couple stared at each other [rising crescendo of maudlin Soap music still playing] with undisguised longing, regret, recrimination and…yes, yes, there it was…lust, Dr. Dagnachew was about to step bravely into the mix when his bravery was arrested by a gun-totting beauty – (Damn!! Another Ethiopian!!) – who had a beige “flesh-colored” Band-Aid strapped to her brown forehead and murder in her eyes.
Fifi trained her fierce eyes on poor Diffabachew who was trying to stop his yet ligba, meret waTeN fear from knocking him off his black, flat, penny-loafer-shod feet. The gun in her hand pointed unwaveringly straight at Diffabachew’s chest, while her other hand clutched a sheaf of papers.
“Qoy’sti! Let me explain…,” Diffabachew wailed, the white of his eyes expanding by the minute.
“Fifi…?” Zewditu intoned in a disbelieving tone, taking in the Qusil on her sister’s forehead, admiring the gun in her hand and thinking, “Thank God we look nothing alike!”
“Zew….Zewditu…?” Dr. Dagnachew stuttered, his eyes resting on his first and last love, the woman against whom he measured every other woman, the woman who had taken him in like a meat-grinder and spat him back out into the world in shattered pieces.
“Daggi….?” Wzro Sebebyelesh said, finally able to tear her tear-filled eyes from her secret love, Dr. Raselas, the secret father of her secret love child, Zeryihun. Wzro. Sebebyelesh had for many years imagined that Daggi, her social-rival’s son, was really her own love child, switched at birth at TiQur Anbessa hospital by his mother, Wzro. BizuworQ TassE, the lowly woman who used to clean her house during Meskerem ina PagumE, and who had, after her own harrowing mefenaQel from sim yalew society in Addis Abeba in the early 70s, now managed to become her “better” in the growing nouveau-riche DC society of the Ethiopian Diaspora. However, Daggi’s unmistakable resemblance to Wzro. Sebebyelesh’s now deceased half-brother, Ras Bizu Meretalew, had waylaid her plans to force Wzro. Bizuworq into submitting to a blood test to ascertain the ghind’na aTint of this strapping, wonderful specimen of Ethiopian manhood. Her own son, Negussay, had spiraled down the society drainpipe faster than she could have said: igzio m’harene kristos! Which would explain her rather uncharacteristic interest in Zerihun, who had been raised by that gun-totting, crazy-eyed woman, one of the twins that her one and only love, Dr. Raselas, had sired from a woman they had both vowed to forget.
“Somebody shut that dafintam musiQa off,” Fifi growled.
“Cut, cut, cut…!!!”
The soundstage clears as the director hops off her canvass chair and wades into the midst of extras and stars. She’s waving her much abused script in the air above her beret-wearing head and uttering a string of multi-syllabic words she’d picked up off this insanely popular new Ethiopian TV weekly news magazine show called: Inismama…okay? where young ETs could be heard airing their dirty laundry on subjects ranging from “Feeling isolated in the midst of an Ethiopian crowd,” to “101 Easy steps to landing the perfect Ethiopian spouse,” in Amaringlish, the new Ethio-speak even the Yo-yo-yo-dawg!-ing Shuruba-Z style Et thugs were falling madly in love with.
The scriptwriter, a disenchanted young man who had abandoned the fledgling dot.com publication, Seleda, when upper management’s constant promise of yemayitamen stock-options, which he had counted on to catapult him into the SUV-generation, had never materialized, trailed the director with less enthusiasm than a Tija headed for infamy on a menu as Veal Parmigiana.
“You mediocre, under-trained, over-zealous, overrated, over-paid thespians from hell!!” she spat out…then realizing she had neglected to use her bullhorn, repeated the same hyphenated tirade at a deafening decibel. “Our audience expects more of us. They want drama, not melodrama. They expect suspense…not, not this insipid reiteration of who’s-who in As Bolé Turns. Fifi, give me Laura from ‘General Hospital;’ Sebebyelesh, give me Alexis from ‘Dynasty;’ Raselas [sigh] Raselas, Raselas, Raselas…turn the U-U-ta down a scotch, ‘kay, yenE Qonjo? Dagg, you got the Denzel looks down, bicha, I need some’o Wesley’s danger in your eyes, ishi? The rest of you…b’feTerachihu amlak…act!! A-C-T…act. téater siru!
“And you,” she rounded on the hapless ex-Seleda lolé who was right at that moment deep in fervent Selot, wishing for his anonymous spot in front of his monitor in the dimly-lit bowls of Seleda-dom, “Give me a story line I can sink my teeth into! Give me dialogue, give me drama…and give me my drugs, damn it! I feel lucidity coming on….
“Everybody, take five until we can figure this thing out.”
Five hours later, armed with a revised script, rested actors and psychedelic paisley amoebas floating before her unfocused eyes, the director pours her boneless body into her canvas chair and mutters, “Action,” which is echoed by her ambitious assistant director who now has her grubby little hands around the coveted bullhorn.
In a flurry of super-slo-mo action worthy of The Matrix, Dr. Dagnachew leaps forward at Fifi, who has already squeezed the trigger on her snub-nosed little .35 at about the same time Zewditu throws her arms about her new-found half-sibling Shuruba-Z, who is caught between joy and frustration at having this fine-baby-got-back-phat-lookin’-mama become at once in reach and out of reach of his post-adolescent urges. Wzro. Sebebyelesh lets out a plaintive scream as Dr. (He should have been my son!) Daggi catches the zinging bullet in his left shoulder, splotching his Clorox whites in dark red syrup. Dr. Raselas, in the midst of taking advantage of chaos to steal a kiss from his lady-love, finds himself clutching thin air and tipping over the side of the Gurney as Wzro. Sebebyelesh makes a dramatic, impressive leap (only it was really the stuntwoman in a jet-black wig with an ample faux bosom strapped to her chest) to come to the rescue of her behone son and lands squarely on poor Wadi, who was just beginning to regain consciousness and was having a delicious dream about becoming an ex-fara who was making gnashing fun of his nouveau-riche, wanna-be upper middle-class DC Diaspora-set friend, Selam, whose lipstick was bleeding garishly all over her imperfect teeth.
Wzro. Sebebyelesh’s failed rescue leap, dislodges Wadi’s IV unit, sending him into a new spasm of pain, from which he promptly faints and blissfully subsides into his former-fara hilm.
Dr. Dagnachew (Daggi, Dagg) hits the floor, a split second before Zewditu lands on him, arms splayed out paratrooper style, protecting him from further injury as she has come to her newest realization of love, Ethiopian style, and covers his face with lip prints done in blood-red lipstick.
From the sidelines, the ambitious assistant director yells, “Cut! Print. That’s a wrap!” as the scriptwriter, the former Seleda-lolé, shreds his script into little, itsy-bitsy pieces of confetti and wishes himself anywhere but there…then spies the director’s bottle of colorful little pills, and surreptitiously rescues them from danger of being drowned in the director’s drool. Five minutes later, he too is in the wonderful world of floating psychedelic paisley amoebas as the ambitious assistant director views the dailies for what would be the last episode of “As Bolé Turns.”