Archive for March, 2012


“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12

When I was a little girl, there were a couple of things that were expected of kids:
1. They were expected to help around the house with chores and younger siblings.
2. They were expected to eat what was given them.
3. And they were expected to go to school. And the church.

The closest church to my childhood home of Qebena was “Yeka Micheal Bete Christian”, which was near “Sholla Gebeya” [where me and my would-be-jail-bird little bro Tagel were sent to buy, and carry home, the weekly rations on Saturday mornings with one of my aunts who lived somewhere in between; teaching me the womanly art of home economics and him a consuming desire for other people’s money]. St. Michael’s church had a tablet that “came out” once a year to the famous “Jan Meda”, distinguishing it from your average “bete selam”. It was also home to quite a few renowned birds, like “Aba Solomon”; the politically-minded monk who grew his hair long, wore colorful robs and chains, and called the wrath of God from upon high to low down below every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon.

So when the time came for my non-practicing Orthodox Christian father and slack Protestant mother to permit me go to this colorful place of worship, I was excited more than a child has the right to be upon leaving the house with an empty stomach. In almost the same manner “yeSama wot” and “watermelon” (or “hubhub”, as China and Mezgebu, our arch-frenemy brother and sister, sang it) affected me prior to actually eating them, I’ve built an appetite for it. I’ve been told of the building, of the serene atmosphere therein, of “Qurban” and it’s constructive effect on my soul, younger than 10 year old though I maybe.

On the morning I had my aunt put a white shash on my head, tie it around my neck, and send me into the world of angels and demons with strict warnings to the older kids not to let go of my hand, I didn’t stop to wonder where her patronizing smile at my feverish enthusiasm came from. That was a lesson I had to learn on my own two days later when, after being allowed to enter the holy of holies bare foot, spend hours pining by the wall [looking at the beautiful paintings, soft carpet, exotic curtains, the smell of incense mixed effortlessly with the sound of drums, tsenatsils and “te’ume zemas” raising and falling from the microphones] I partook of the “siga we’demu” and come out uncovering my mouth long enough to declare just how robbed I felt. “It tastes like bread and syrup!”, I said. I would have probably continued with my accusation hadn’t my declaration appeared to have knocked the breath out of half the teenage congregants of “Keftegna Asra Sidist, Qebele Zero Hulet”.

There was a stunned look, followed by a gasp, which in turn was followed by collective admonishing for my “diffret”, warnings of “Qisefet”s and a general sense of doom-about-to-befall. It was only “BilQat”, older sister to a kid who would chase me across “ginfle” river years later, and daughter to the local “yemender merfe wogi” [the illiterate mendertegna referred to as “doctor”]; who came to my defense. “She doesn’t know!”, she protested, God bless her, “It’s her first time. God would forgive her for speaking without knowledge”. Not many thought so. They watched and waited, with an almost eager anticipation, for me to be struck by a bolt of lightening and burn to crisp. [And when I survived, I could only imagine, bitter Christians were born].

[The cynic, the pacifist and the extremist; my Lord].

Referring to the holy communion as “mere bread and syrup”, however, wasn’t the only thing one wasn’t allowed to say within the gates of the sacred ground. There were many “can’t dos”: You can’t eat before coming to church. You can’t saunter-in without crossing yourself. You can’t run within the church compound. [All offenses punishable by death]. You can gossip about your friends, or their boyfriends. You can make eyes at the deacons, and flirt back when their’s meet yours. You are free to tell stories of two members of another congregation who, one cold morning, stole into the bell-tower and started going at it, until “Melaku Gebriel” appeared on the g-rated scene to meet out divine punishment, in the form of “matabeQing” them together. They were taken, we over-heard, around “Nigs”es and “Beale Kibret”s as a “lantica” for the Angry Angel’s ferociousness. [While the cool-as-cucumber Angel Michael, some observed, would have probably passed them by with a gentle wag of the finger]. You can do all that. But there were things off limit, slipping to the back of the building and walking among the dead, reading scriptures and looking at photos of the deceased, included. (more…)

March 4, 2012 at 2:44 am 7 comments


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

Life quote:

"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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March 2012

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