The trail and the error
Do you call yourself names? I do. All the time. Names I inwardly believe are true. And names I know are not. I call the person who stares back at me in the mirror names because it gives me a relief. I call myself names in company because I feel by saying it for them I will save myself the embarrassment of having to hear it (or think it) and them the trouble. Being a control freak, like all those people who call themselves names, it’s sort of a defense mechanism for me. A taking power back kind of thing. A way to tackle the unknown in an attempt to make sure you know where you stand. Like those gay men who look for HIV+ guys to affect them so they can sleep around as they please afterwards. An adventurousness that has nothing to do with neither adventure nor courage. And I guess sometimes because I, unconsciously, am digging for a compliment. For compliment me they do. They laugh nervously at first and, as if to make up for it, they indignantly come to my rescue by bravely defending me from me. They tell me I wasn’t even almost what I think I am and that I need to have my head examined. They continue by listing my pros, compare them with those people who don’t have half those pros but are less self-judgmental & tell me I should see myself the way others see me. Ethiopians are adorable that way! 🙂
One of these adorable Ethiopians is my sister Blen. She calls herself names too. But feels she, atleast, is justified. But she has high opinions of her fellow self-hater elder sis, even when her elder sis is acting like a pig (correctly labeling, this time). She says if I didn’t hate myself so much, I’d see how good I have it. That if she was in my place, she’d have been happy as Larry (who, I have a feeling, is a fellow with a mouth full of teeth).
So it proved the other day. I was walking to Arat Kilo via HabteGiogis Dildiy with my little sister when I saw somebody making faces at me. “Siyastella!” I commented brusquely, no doubt looking it too.
Blen paused, both her feet and thought
“What exactly is your problem?” she asked, as she always do when she hears me cursing Angelina Jolie in a way that would have made Jennifer Aniston uncomfortable “Why won’t you just go your way and stop looking at people?”
“He is looking at me” I protested embarrassed at being admonished by a younger kin
“So?” She demanded “Do you have to call him names?”
“Why not?” I asked defensively “People call me names all the time. So I call them names to comfort myself. It’s a two way street ”
“How do you know they’re calling you names?” she asked looking surprised.
“I’d call me names if I were them, that’s how I know”
My 20 years old kin sighed “That explains it” she said.
If I hadn’t witnessed how wild a name-caller’s impression of self can be a few days ago, I’d laughed and that would be the end of the conversation.
I was at Getu Business Complex a few evenings ago. Shopping for what the gals on “Sex and the city” would call a girl’s best friend: shoe! I’ve been going to this shop for almost 4 years, before Getu thought of Getu & Complex in one sentence, and I’ve never seen it more packed. This being a time of graduation, I wasn’t surprised. Two girls and a man were intently staring at an inner door no doubt waiting for a loved one to show up for “prova”. A minute later she marched out. A tallish early 20-somethings girl wearing a dark suit that barley cleared her knee. The awkward way she paused for us showed she wasn’t exactly thrilled by audience. “Look at me!”, she lamented brushing the wild hair back and gesturing at her figure in the mirror, “I look like Bizunesh Bekele!”
People who call themselves names are wildly creative.
Everyone around laughed. The girls laughed. The two sales girls laughed. The man said he thought it was too short. I frowned.
She went back in the changing room and came out wearing what she originally had on. I couldn’t help but notice how more hip, taller and at home in the rug she was wearing she looked. But she didn’t remind me of Bizunesh Bekele earlier so i was far from smiling in approval. She handed the suit back to one of the sales girls and they walked out, arguing loudly. After buying my shoe, which was on New year Sale, I mounted the stairs to the BoleWood Digital Photo Shop where my flash-drive and 47 prints were waiting.
“Give us 5 more minutes” the girl at the balcony shouted above Mesfin Gutu’s “Gena..Gena” whose rhythm reminds me one of Gigi’s songs. Sitted at the café next door, I saw crazy-haired girl and friends walking towards my way. They no doubt have given up on the idea of getting anything satisfying and were coming to get coffee and English cake before heading home.
I grabbed the girl’s hand when she was about to pass by my table. She stopped, looking confused and giving me the kind of smile that’s ready to acknowledge a forgotten friend. “Hi”, I said shaking her hand to show I came in peace “I was at Canaan earlier.” I said gesturing inaccurately “Didn’t wanna comment because there were too many of you around. But I didn’t think you looked like Bizunesh Bekele”
“Oh?” she said and laughed happily
“Yes” I said, looking concerned, “I call myself names too but yours was way out of my league.”
“Thank you” she said, embarassedly showing a mouth-full of teeth
“And please don’t go out shopping with a man” I added
“Yeah.. he’s my dad. He goes everywhere I go”
After she thanked me and left, I went back to the digital Photoshop in search of the flash drive and my 40 something photo prints. I did not have to see any of them to know there lies not my redemption.