If you told my grandmother - who shrank away and faded at the generous age of five score and five, God rest her soul - that her grandson, the one she had always believed would grow up to be a priest, walked away from it all to live amid strangers in a faraway land of kotelik ferenjoch, she would gape in disbelief. She would demand to be told the crime or curse that had condemned the flesh of her flesh to such a fate, her 'tijayE' whose childhood rendition of Ge'ez hymns, she was sure, held in it the promise of a golden cleric future and foreshadowed an accomplished priest fit to regale a king. You would then try to reassure her by revealing that her grandson's exile was self inflicted, a result neither of crime nor curse, but of a choice he had made in full possession of his faculties. Through relentless interrogation, she would gather details of my life such as my food that includes injera once or twice a month and meat not hallowed for Christian consumption, that I go to church once a year on Fasika, that compared to the QuR that roams the land I live in, the stinging chill of St. Gabriel's hilltop tsebel on an October dawn is like the tepid showers of July; that in the town I now call home, if one were about to die of thirst and sat in the middle of the road begging for a drink of water in AmariNa, people would take him for a gibbering fool, that I speak a tongue so foreign that one can't say "ifoy" or "embi" in it. She would shed a pint of tears beating her chest, and she would heave herself up on her mequamia. She would gather the far-flung flock of her blood from every nook and cranny of yabesha midir. A wispy, sinewy knot of zeal and purposefulness, she would preside over the hushed bunch of her relatives flicking her amber rosary. Out of her gaunt face and the intricate labyrinth of wrinkles time had carved on it, the twin beads of her eyes would flicker dimly beneath the rim of her Qob as she delivers an impassioned rebuke and a plea in a voice that sounded like a door on slightly rusty hinges.
"You should be ashamed of yourselves, letting our son live in the Godforsaken land of the Godless!" She would admonish them severely. She would recount the exaggerated version of my plight: my diet of pig's meat from the infidel's kitchen and the cold that freezes the very marrow in my bones.
Some might counter by saying: "But he earns better living there. He is rich." She would then turn to the cheeky one with a look of utter dismay on her face, and ask: "Is that all there is to life?"
No one would have an answer to that.
In the quietness that follows, she would declare with absolute certainty that if they didn't hasten to redress their guilt of heartless abandonment by rescuing their son in bondage out of the land of Magog, they would have to face the wrath of a higher authority.
"Did you think anyone who does what he has done to himself is of sound aimiro? Would even a fool fail to see that this is a work of evil, the scheme of Diabolos himself to lead a budding archpriest astray? Get him back before it is too late and let's have him baptized again. He needs that, and two fortnights of tsebel!"
Of course this is a flight of fancy on my part. Even if she were alive, my grandmother wouldn't demand of her kinfolk a commitment to repatriate me, if not for lack of concern, at least out of her bewilderment with the incomprehensible topsy-turvy of things in her twilight years, and her grudging regard for the bizarre modern notions that we, of the later generation, have come to worship. But pity me bitterly, as I know she would, for all of my 'good' reasons for leaving my country put together wouldn't mean as much to her as a bustling throng of family and friends to adorn a funeral or a wedding.