Once upon a time..
There was Monday. And Tuesday. And Wednesday. And 7th day. On that day… the King finished His work which He had made; and He rested. From His throne, He had a good view of the garden. In the garden were His two favorite handiwork: Man [whom He called "Adam"], and Steve [short for Stephanie] whom the King decided should be Adam’s mate; for they were both of age and it was a matter of time.
He wasn’t given to much talking, this King wasn’t. He was a man of few words. But if He was given to talking, He would have admitted [with a dead-on Australian accent] that He was rather proud of these two. He doubts even he, He would have added, [for - not being the sort for the need to throw his weight about - it wouldn't have occurred to him to capitalize "h"] could top this one! And so.. He leaned back, watching them with fondest eyes. Not like a stalker though, rather like a proud mother. A mother who is both excited and fascinated by her new baby; as if she couldn’t believe THAT bundle of joy and that source of mystery came out her. He was so cozy He would have fallen asleep, if it weren’t for an angel nudging Him. “What ho”, He thought, when He saw Stephanie creeping around as if she was about to do something she didn’t want to be seen doing.
“The snake!”, the servant closest to Him has groaned, and that was all the information the King needed.
He watched her, fascinated, almost daring her to do what He knew she shouldn’t dare do. Take the apple, give it a rub, and sink her teeth into it. But, to His surprise, she did. She didn’t spit it out either. She took a couple more bites and went looking for Adam to “share the good news”. And Adam.. Oh Adam.. Adam went for it.
He wasn’t surprised. But He was disappointed; not so much at the disobedience but rather at the betrayal! The fact that she [and then he] would credit the words of another over His, their ever-loving; ever well-meaning Master-designer.
“Well.. well”, the King thought, with not a little disappointment. “So that’s how it is, is it? They want to take the apple and eat it too, then? Take their ‘destiny’ into their own hands? They want to discover new things.. search for wisdoms.. and make decisions, regardless of what I have to say about it. Instead of heeding to my advice, they want to see if the fire really burneth, do they?!. Well then..” He said resignedly, “Let it be.”
A servant was dispatched to take care of it, at which interval the King sat discontentedly on His throne, deep in thought. He decided just driving Adam and Steve out of the garden wasn’t enough. He doesn’t want to appear soft, no man in His position does; but He was hurt. His pride was hurt. And in His agony, He murmured “And when they spread out their hands in prayer, I will hide my eyes from them; and their children’s children. Yes, even though they multiply prayers, as they themselves multiply, I will not listen. For they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them, I shall no longer be their King; but a witness to their inequities, a judge!”
Now here is something you don’t wanna do when you are an all mighty King. You don’t want to make rush decisions you won’t allow yourself to go back on. You don’t want to make those decisions in the hearing of servants, scribes and what not. And, more importantly, you don’t want to go to bed angry. The King has done all that that First Sunday. And with a righteous-reputation to protect .. well.. He was kind of stuck now, wasn’t He?!
That doesn’t mean He regrets His decision. Time doesn’t heal all wounds, He will tell you that. And Adam and Steve, and their children’s children, have not shown themselves capable of an obedience not brought about by the fear of the rod. Alas.. He has gotta admit.. He misses them. Rather.. the memory of them.. the way they were – He and them both – before the fall. Their complete dependence on Him. The bright innocence with which they discovered all the beauty He surrounded them with. The fact that they knew He was always there when they need Him. Their loss wasn’t His gain. Plus.. it can get pretty lonely up here.
These must be the images they had in mind when they came up with the expression: “Stupidity should be painful”. From this day on-wards, I think the name “Meseret” shall be used interchangeably with the word “mAferia”
|Click on image to enlarge“ተራራም ይሞታል”
ፎቶ፡ ሙሴ ጌታቸው
ቦታ፡ ሞሮቾ፣ ደቡብ ኢትዮጵያ
I have never been an outdoorsy girl. Even when I worked with one of the most prestigious travel agencies in Ethiopia, and dated a Tour Operator for four years, I stayed true to my “home girl” nature – the sort always heard whining in the background why we can’t go back home [and what's wrong with home anyway]. It’s not because I don’t like the birds and the bees, the trees with various shades of green and the fat fish in the small quite creek. Infact, I find them so touching that I wept like a baby the day a friend took me to Lake Washington and had me over-look the area around the [Lacey V. Murrow Memorial] floating bridge.
Adventure has never held an appeal to me because it involves the dreaded “r” word, taking risk. Risks I dodge. I dodge them like a bullet even when they appear harmless and everybody else seems to be willing to take them. Like sitting in the front sit of a car. Or enjoying a swing-ride at one of those fares that come but only once a year. Or learning how to swim. “Paralyzed from the neck down” is how I imagine myself ending up when asked to be involved in any kind of adventurous activity – including hiking!
|Click on image to enlarge|
Ofcourse, after I moved to the Emerald City, I have gotten used to walking around; first out of necessity, then for pleasure. Downtown Seattle maybe an expensive, densely populated place with the sort of air-pollution that makes a girl get a headache every time she breathes clean-air. But it has a lot to offer in the way of “sight for sore eyes”. The Waterfront. The Olympia Sculpture Park. The Pike Place Market and the whole 9 yard of the Piers neighbourhood. Places I could, and usually do, walk down to when feeling lonesome. Or need to check out exotic imported stuff at World Market. Or drop the pounds.
So this thirst of mine for beauty and desire to keep my neck on my shoulder, has helped me seek out a middle ground. Which I found in parks!
Now if anybody can boast of parks, the state of Washington can boast more! Parks, public libraries and NPR, infact, are what I repeatedly said I’d take home from America if I can. A walk in the parks is full of the wilderness bounty minus its perils. Sure — there would be the occasional coyote, the slithering garter snake [that is "afraid of you more than you are afraid of it", I have been told. I have decided it's a guy] and wooden bridges one can slip on and take a toss in the nearest body of water. Parks are full of flora and fauna, quite breezes and shushing creeks. There are wooden bridges winding for miles that the occasional teenager has scribbled undying messages of devotion on, gazebos one can take a breather at or ponder the beauty around one, and everything that reminds you being civilized means putting effort into stuff that can function well without one. It’s beautiful and the one place where a man and a woman can hold hands, and not appear sappy or pretentious.
But you haven’t seen the beauty the out-doors has to offer until you have huffed and puffed your way up a hiking trail on one of Seattle’s cascade mountains; with an 83 degree sun beating on you and giving you a tan you don’t need, while rocks stabth your toe as a disagreeable younger brother would and mosquitos eagerly take bites out of your neck like it was in. The dust from hiking shoes of fellow hikers ahead of you hitting you right between the eyes can probably be avoided by leading the troupe. But the muscles [!] – nothing can be done about the muscles feeling like they are splitting with every step-up you take.
You’d experience all these even if you, like me, were tagging along a seasoned hiker who:
1. Had you buy fabrics that are breathable and draw sweat away from the skin to help cool you down
2. Provided you with
2.a. Hiking boots [that provide comfort for walking over rough terrains, mud, rocks and other wilderness obstacles]
2.b. Hiking poles [that help you transfer some of your weight to your shoulders, arms and back; reducing leg fatigue]
2.c. 100% mosquito-repellent bug spray
2.d. a back-pack full of snacks and cold drinks.
Not to mention a shoulder for your frustrated tears and a handkerchief for your sweat.
Oh but what a reward awaits the persistent traveller who considers not the exhaustion and pains of the now, but walks heartily, knowing that from the view on the top he shall receive his eternal reward [in the form of a deeply satisfying spiritual connection to all things created and beautiful, as well as plenty of photos he can post on facebook and send to family and friends] – of snow-covered mountains, waterfalls, lush-meadows!! And, when, upon hitting “camp”, you get a glimpse of the car that brought you up that your guide has remembered to fill with a cooler full of cold drinks; a change of clean clothes and a sandal to set your toes free – your relief would know no bounds.
Only one more thing can top this delight, this utter jubilation, this moment of thanks and praises!: watching a group of people preparing to do the hike you just got done with — preferably without:
1. A bug spray.
2. Hiking poles
3. In tennis shoes.
Civility stops you from sticking your tongue out and saying “na-na na-na-na”. But you’d be thinking it!
Does being in a relationship make a woman dumber? I am starting to think so! It hasn’t been 4 months since I met the man I’m dating now [who, to be fair, has taken me home and introduced me to his family - including his mother and daughter - on that most American of holidays - the 4th! - and not just as his plus 1]. Alas, I have already devolved into the “we” mentality of a wife/a fiancée/a girl-we-friend.
Before the 2nd week of April 2013, my one true passion was NPR. I thought about smart ”shows” on the radio [Radiolab, The Ted-Radio hour, Wire Tap with - my "loverlie"- Jonathan Goldstein]: Being smart. Thinking smart. And writing smart. About people, what makes them, what breaks them and what ticks them [off]. Race relations. Islam, homosexuals and Chinese women. Of Italy, of working on my craft, about reading as many “All facts considered” books as I can so I can appear more learned than I am and/or my humble day-job declares [the old "Samad Miah" complex.. of the immigrant's need to ..
desperately be wearing a sign, a large white placard that said:
I AM NOT A WAITER. I HAVE BEEN A STUDENT, A SCIENTIST, A SOLDIER, MY WIFE IS CALLED ALSANA, WE LIVE IN EAST LONDON BUT WE WOULD LIKE TO MOVE NORTH. I AM A MUSLIM BUT ALLAH HAS FORSAKEN ME OR I HAVE FORSAKEN ALLAH, I'M NOT SURE. I HAVE A FRIEND - ARCHIE - AND OTHERS. I AM FORTY-NINE BUT WOMEN STILL TURN IN THE STREET. SOMETIMES.
Or, in the absence of such a placard, the desire to drop names and quote quotes from, say, such renowned works of fiction as "White Teeth"; about old men who found out:
"..that the inclining of one's head, poising of one's pen, these were important, so important. It was important to be a good waiter, to listen when someone said Lamb Dawn Sock and rice. With chips. Thank you."
That was before April 2013. The pre-Trojan era, as I would like to call it [wink wink nudge nudge :-)]. Now all I think about is my weight [hoping on the scale morning and night, in an attempt to see I haven't crossed-over the dreaded 5 pound threshold]. I worry about the food I eat. The cloth I wear. How many hours before bed to apply my Clean & Clear® dual action moisturizer [which is da bomb, by the way, I highly recommend it for all skin resembling "yeNebir Qoda"!]; so I don’t sniff a hint of it the next day on my pillow. And what hair oil to use so my skull doesn’t dry-out [and starts "mebunening", like yeDukem asphalt] from the sun.
I think of tooth pastes – most whitening! [Green] Tea types - better source of antioxidant! And body lotions – texture/smell/feel! I wonder if I should learn how to bake. Or how to swim. Or how to drive – so I won’t be found lacking when the need arises. I browse the lists of things to do in Seattle that come with free-parking. For restaurants that offer healthy options. And try to figure out what to cook/where to go/and what to do so the next date isn’t as costly as the last one was. I think of schedules [his and mine]. Colors. Other women. I keep an eye out for the movies he likes. I flip through the pages of the books he loves quoting from. And pounce on programs I know he would find impressive, so I could share it with him [and, by and by, prove I got more going for me than meets the eye]. In re-living the moments I spent with him, I dissect words and try to read between lines. I review behaviors and look for patterns. I Google emotions and reactions; best ways to communicate concerns and red-flags to be wary of.
I look inward, too, sometimes; shamefacedly.. almost on tip-toe.. “the same way adolescent vegetarians scurry by butchers” [as Zadie Smith would say]. I think of how, the longer I lived in this country, the less intelligent I seem to become. How, the more I doubted myself, the less coherent I am. And how the quick-come backs, the witticisms and the perfect lines occur to me long after the subject has been chewed tasteless. It worries me; this tendency of a woman’s – of throwing all of her into a relationship – and not being able to think of anything else when she finds herself in one. And I feel guilty for seeming to have turned into an almost glass-is-half-full person. [A person who no longer says "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that" the way she is brought up to, but makes plans weeks ahead in the hope that she will live and he would still be around. This person who sees options & opportunities and not always hand in hand with consequences. Can hope to enjoy pleasure without punishment. A future! - not tainted by the fear of loss].
Even when I think these things [look inward, that is], I think of them in & with relation to him. Would he feel he has been robbed when he realizes I’m not as smart as I write?! Would he consider me a little too dependent when finding out that I don’t have much of a life outside work [so should I join that gym? Register for that course? Make myself less available]?! Is letting your guard down another way of setting yourself up for a disappointment - a heart-break?! And, ofcourse, classic abesheet: would he go and would I wish I hadn’t made mention of him, written about him, hoped?!
But he will come again..
And there I will go ..
I don’t eat out often [it's cheaper & healthier to cook, work at a restaurant that offers free fancy-food three times a day and been driven around and done that the first few months I came to America; resulting in an epic weight-gain that took 3 years to shade]. In the few ocassions-a-month I do eat out, I try to tag along somebody who does it more often than I. This is especially true with Asian food establishments, Chinese food for example. My fear isn’t just being judged for coming as a minus plus-one. But that they would spit in my food unless they see somebody with a slanted eye next to me, and felt kinder towards my shade of black. Plus politely asking for forks can only be cute while sitting next to, and conversing pleasantly with, somebody who knows how to work them chopsticks [is good in Maths and has atleast a black belt in one or more of the Martial arts]. Otherwise it would appear as rude as refusing to use your hand to eat Injera – it just isn’t done! All that, ofcourse, pales by comparison when, seeing the “quality” of their products and their inability to spell ingredients even on the most authentic-looking imitations, one stops to consider what one is putting into one’s “hod Eqa” by reaching for an Oriental cuisine.
Apparently, I am not the only one who view these folks, and their cheap, spicy, yummy treats with suspicion. David Sedaris, my favorite gay American [a never ceasing reminder that not all gay men have to be like my least favorite gay American, Dan Savage, who - according to South Park's definition - is more of a faggot], has written a book entitled “Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls”. It’s a collection of Essays in which he included one on the sanitation problem and eating culture of the people in the People’s Republic of China. He entitled it “#2 to go”. The number, I am afraid, doesn’t refer to the numeral on the menu. Which brings me to the “warning” part.
This story isn’t for the faint at heart; or the weak-stomach-ed. If you have a tendency to dwell on and are given to nausea at the thought of gross stuff that may find it’s way into your food; you’d wanna make sure you read it atleast two hours before you eat; and 4 after you did. That way your body has digested whatever you have consumed and isn’t likely to pound your chest and squeeze your throat muscles until you have ejected acid-covered bits of whatever you stuffed down earlier. And if you are planning to get a take-out from your favorite Chinese take-out place, or even plan to eat at one within the next 6 months; you would wanna skip reading this essay altogether. It isn’t pleasant, save for this blogger; who prides herself for being from a country where people don’t take a dump in the bushes unless they have to; and have the modesty to cover their mouth or nose before hocking a loogie. To think their kind finds my kind inferior continues to be a mystery to me.
If, by the end of this reading, you find yourself wanting to protest “but a China-man in America won’t surely behave like a China-man in China”, I say unto you “look at how the Ethiopian cabbies in your area drive”. Old habits die hard, especially when they involve the most private things you do in the most private of places. It has also not been lost upon me how publishing one of his Essays in full could be an infringement on Mr. Sedaris’ copy-rights. However, seeing how dozens of his short-story readings being posted on youtube didn’t seem to diminish his fame and fortune, hopefully this won’t either. I dedicate this story to that special friend who first brought to my attention the existence of Chinese dog-farms, the various discussions we had on “exotic” food, adventurous eating and the list of things we were willing to try. May you realize the moneky-brains weren’t the worst thing that could happen in/to a Chinese Cuisine next time you found yourself craving for a freshly-steamed shrimp dumplings!
#2 TO GO
By David Sedaris
From “Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls. Essays Etc.” (more…)