An excerpt from “Virgins Always Bleed”

Chapter 8

“ትልቁ ቤት” is an estate, in a neighborhood made up of mud houses people rented from the government, where, at the beginning of the century, titled military men from Grazmach, to Qegnazmach, to Balamberas, to Negadras, to Fitawrari, [maybe even a Huala’wrari] lived, died, and were buried at.

Before it was returned to the owners following the Italian Occupation, there lived in it a “ጥልያን” /ṭ’ilyan/ who owned a small cooking-oil refinery and loved to dramatically slap his head and swear “Mamma Mia” a lot–as if he saw the need to be more stereotypical than he was. The native who ran his business for him, and did most of the communication with the locals, one Zeba’sil Qenu, was, on the other hand, a man of few words.

There was nothing political about Zeba’sil’s job. He knew a bit of Italian. He was good at managing people. And even better at running a business and turning profit. This, at the time of an invasion followed by a 5-year occupation, won him no favor among his compatriots. “Banda,” they called him behind his back. “Mercenary”, “Traitor”. “Turncoat”. When they could not entrap him into doing something or saying something that would get him into trouble with his Italian master, the [honorable/patriotic/country-loving] natives, the true children of the land, decided to do a sit in and refuse to move unless their demands were met.

“What do they want?”, the Italian asked. They wanted better pay. Better working conditions. And whatever else they felt reasonable enough to ask without pushing him too far. What if he said no? Then he would have to do the work himself. Which the stubborn Italian did, after some unsuccessful floor stumping and a threatening message through Zeba’sil.

He would have, perhaps, succeeded too if word did not reach him that the main leader of the opposition, the man behind all this, “the snake in the grass”–so to say–was the very man he thought he could trust his life to.

Him he summons into the refinery, which now serves as home to the 6 cows and two oxen that kept the Mekuria family afloat after a wrongly administered gangrene medication killed a diabetes patient and “Doctor” Mekuria’s clinic closed indefinitely. [By virtue of the mistake, as well as the certificate turning out to be that of a Pharmacy Technician, and not a medical doctor]. Zeba’sil, innocent–as always–of blame, save that of trying to live in peace with his neighbors and earn an honest bread, comes in, wiping his sweat [one assumes] with some rag. The Italian, who had thus far been keeping himself busy, and frenzied, with trying to start and keep the engines running, threw some bitter questions at the latter before asking him to put his hand under the oil pressing machine. Whatever the excuse, it fails to convince Zeba’sil. He refuses. Argument ensues. Fight erupts. The skinny foreman did not stand a chance against the angry, stocky, well-fed Italian.

Scream mixes itself with tears. Tears mix with Blood. Blood pours down where sesame oil should.

With his crushed arm wrapped in a towel, like an ailing baby, the foreman goes to the local police. Weeping, sweating, and screaming in both Italian and Amharic, he asks for justice. He is told to fill out some papers, that he should’ve picked a fight with a man his own size, that this is what happens when you try to serve two masters. Whereupon Zeba’sil goes outside, finds himself a banana crate, stands on it and starts repeating the dreaded “Behig Amlak”, “in the name of the God of justice”, that no good Christian can walk away from without looking bad.

When the defenders of the law, unable to ignore the raucous outside, arrive at “ትልቁ ቤት” with the victim, along with the strikers who accompanied Zeba’sil, and the neighbors hungry for drama, they find out that the foreigner had bolted with all the assets he can carry–his lira, his “Mar Treza”, the banknotes. The asset he can’t carry was sold later, and placed in the treasury, the better to serve the people of the country with.

This story of how Zeba’sil went home, with nothing but tears for his pain, is still told as an example of the little victories we won against Mussolini’s army, and its mercenaries, for the 5 years the country was occupied. [Not “colonized”, Ethiopians take great issues with that last term.]

November 20, 2022 at 7:18 pm Leave a comment


መጣ ሄደ…
መለስ ቀለስ…
በሱ ቅኝት መንቀሳቀስ
ሳቀ.. ከፋው.. ፊቱን… ፈታ
ፀሐይ.. ዝናብ.. ሃዘን.. ደስታ.
ቢመሽ ጠዋት
ያይንሽ ማሾ
ለግርሽ መብራት
[ፊቱ ሆነ]
የግዜር ሸራ
ያምላክ ሰማይ
የ’ንጀራ አይን
ለ’ዉር ድንጋይ.

November 8, 2022 at 7:11 am Leave a comment

Year 13: Homesick

May 7, 2022 at 6:24 pm Leave a comment

“When the shadow starts moving, run.”

(Walking በጠፍ ጨረቃ, in America)

OH NO, legs!

No, trees.

No, poles.


February 10, 2022 at 2:09 pm Leave a comment

Dear Liberals: America Lies

“Your short-term gains are the rest of the world’s long-term disasters – for everybody, including yourselves” (Arundhati Roy | Things That Can and Cannot Be Said)

I don’t know who is telling the truth, or who is pepetrating which act to whom in the Ethiopian government’s war against the Tigrai People’s Liberation Front. I am sure there is enough blame to go around. That hashtags like “rape”, “women & children”, “genocide”/”ethnic cleansing” are click-baits that sell newspapers and trigger an emotional response [mostly justified, sometimes not] in the Western boosom and that both the media and Tigrai-born Ethiopians living abroad with an internet access and a lot of time in their hands know it!

However, as someone who spent 31 days in Addis Ababa two months ago, I can say, with confidence that:

  1. TPLF is the one who fired the first shot, spilled the first blood, so to say, and started the fire. Here is a brief history on that.
  2. Most Ethiopians feel they have a score to settle against TPLF [for introducing, and lighting the match for, ethnic nationalism in a country of 70 something ethnic groups – and three major religions – who lived together in harmony, with exceptions, for centuries]
  3. Despite what the Western media tells you, TPLF is not fighting to free the people of Tigrai. Neither is it trying to obliterate the country as the Ethiopian government media tells us. [It is all about power, stupid. It has always been about power and whose turn it is to sit by the table and bleed the poor dry!!]
  4. America wants, for reasons only known to itself, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and his government gone. And it has been threatening, bullying and lying through its teeth to see that happen.
  5. There is no easy answer, no silver bullet, no Magic Mike to solve this problem. But ending the war, and not Economic Sanctions against 115 million-already-half-starved people, should be everyone’s priority.
  6. Finally, fuck America. Fuck Egypt. Fuck Sudan. Fuck Eritrea, while you are at it, they were never our friends even when we pretended to be the same country. Fuck embryo Oromo Nazis who would like to replace Addis Ababa with Finfine, Amharic with Qube, and Ethiopia with Oromia. Fuck diaspora Tigrai separatists. Fuck all Amharas who call themselves “Neftegna”. Fuck any Muslim who wants Ethiopia to be an Islamic Nation. Fuck every Orthodox Christian who pretends this is a war of independence when, in fact, we all know it simply is pay-back time. And Fuck all Protestants, including some in my own family, who see Abiy Ahmed as some kind of a prophet [I like Abiy’s “ager wedadinet” as well as the next Habesha. But he is no angel and no one should expect/demand that of him].
  7. Finally, fuck all those who are trying to use my people, my little sister, my little brother and mom as a pawn for their game. May God twist their ankle and break their jaws. Long Live Ethiopia!

#ኢትዮጵያ ለዘላለም ትኑር#

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November 25, 2021 at 4:10 pm 1 comment

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The blogger tries to think outside the box, or wonder why she sometimes can't.

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"I will speak for you, Father. I speak for all mediocrities in the world. I am their champion. I am their patron saint." - Antonio Salieri, from the movie "Amadeus"

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