More than silver, more than gold!
Nothing brings an Ethiopian family together like the Olympics. It makes comrades of the most unlikely people: me & my mom for example.
It was a typical family gathering at my parents’ last night. There was the undersigned, who stayed around until the late hours of the afternoon to watch ‘Everybody Hates Chris’ on Dubai One TV. My father, whose disappointed look made us switch the channel to Al-Jazeera Sports. My mother, a hardcore fan of anything that involves Ethiopia, who hasn’t even changed into her ‘dirriaa’ & ‘gogera’ when she joined us in the living room. Martha, an ex-aunt-in-law, who didn’t explain to what we owe the privilege of the visit. Worke, a family member for almost 21 years, making coffee. And my two siblings, who didn’t inherit the patriotic fervor from neither their parents nor their elder sister, wearing the long face. And, ofcourse, the center of attention – a non-flat screen TV of about 21 inches wide.
Herebelow is the “asselalef” of this Beijing Olympics’ Men 10,000 metres final spectators:
After about 20 minutes, ofcourse, things hitted up. My dad, woken up by my mother’s screaming “Anbesa! Kenenisa!”, very suspicious for a Protestant Christian who “abhors” secular songs indiscriminately, started grumbling how he’s worried “that tenquay” athlete from Algeria may have had some ‘digimt’ on his feet, to help him win. Martha’s prayers to “YeEthiopia Amlak” become more audible and intense. Blen started watching my mom with the amusement she reserved for adults who sometimes exhibit what they might have looked like as a youngster. While Worke simply repeated what everybody else was saying and Babi continued fiddling with the mobile in his discretion.
When the result finally came, and our screamings were shared and echoed by the victorious screamings of the neighbors, and Babi has complimented Kenenisa for being ‘a fast dude” (or, in his words, “dude is fast!”) we each confessed hopes, anxieties and doubts. I told everyone how I cared less about whose flag waved in the stadium as long as that Eritrean guy lost. ‘Anyone but him!’ I said bitterly. Blen observed how tough life must be for Seleshi, whom she observed as being ‘always the bridesmaid and never the bride’. But, like I said, my mother was the super star of the night. The victory added to her animation. “See?!” she kept saying, to no one in particular, “I told you he’d “meFeTLek” from their middle when they least expected it. His enemies were saying so many things against him, that his marriage was on the rocks, that his wife has divorced him and was sueing him him. See…?!”
Before I had an opportunity to chip in that I didn’t see how that has to do with this, the faithful noise came from outside. The guys who watch sport events at the restaurant next door were out in the street inviting like hearts to join them with a resonant ‘HO!’. We all run to the door and started watching the growing crowd of hooligans jumping and clapping to the victorious noise, accompanied by the cheerful honking sounds from the various vehicles whose way they were blocking.
What a wonderful thing it is to belong, thought I. It’s good to be Ethiopian. And just go with the flow. From time to time!