Archive for May 6, 2013

An odd combination of names

My Indian name was “Heavy with food”. Heavy but with food. Got it? 🙂

I’m not Indian, mind you. I’m not even Mexican. I am Ethiopian. [But you probably know that already]. An Ethiopian with an Indian name! It’s one of the “odd combos” that makes this person you have come to know, and read, as abesheet [who also goes by atleast two other known names: A given name, a “bett”/”pet”? name and the aforementioned Indian name that I donned upon myself one bright afternoon while walking by an Uptown Seattle Mexican restaurant with a name so simple it makes you wonder if the owners were real Mexicans or spray-tanned gringos wearing fake handlebar mustaches and over-sized sombreros. “Dos Amigos”, they call it.]. Not to mention the countless other names I opened emails with and are now lost to the world due to my inability to remember all their passwords! [Any news on when we are gonne run out of IP Addresses, guys?!. Seriously this time?!]

The first “odd” combo has gotta do with the above mentioned heaviness; and it’s direct correlation to/with eating. I was a fat Ethiopian. To those of you who consider that expression an “oxymoron”, morons!, I would have you know that we exist. There aren’t many of us. And we try to blend as much as we can with the obese black of America. But we do exist; and our lives are an endless trial and error of attempting to find acceptance in the same society that paid compliments to its neighbours, until very recently, in the form of “weferk! .. amarebih!”.

My “wufret” wasn’t a matter of choice or the result of a variety of bad decisions, however. If given a chance, I would have checked the “tall, dark and handsome” section [without, perhaps, the “dark” part] and attempted to fight my way up the food-chain with a garden full of vegetables leaping in my belly. I would have been more like Netsanet instead of Netsanet being given grief over her inability to be more like me. Netsa [otherwise known as “Qecho”, or “Qotu” or “YeSileshi Ehit”] whose weak cries were the legednary background music of our childhood home, is a 7-month-older cousin who lost her mother immediately after birth and was brought up by my grandmother. The hands that twisted the “tuto” out of her hand – causing the weak cries, and the helpless tears were, I regret to report, mine.

Before you judge my toddler-self harshly, however, I pray you stop and ask why I became the little “tuto”-snatching bully [or a “jambo”, or a “sancho”, or a “Gembo” or any of the other names I grew up hearing myself referred to as] I was in those formative years. The answer, in a word, “Morinaga”. In two words: “Morinaga wetet” – a powder-milk that kept me from screaming the roof down after my mom dropped breast-feeding and me at her mother’s, so she can go back to Hossana and continue working as a telephone operator. The milk would have sufficed to make me quit hollering, I assure you. But my aunts were young and there wasn’t much in the form of entertainment for the youth in those days. Plus potatoe was much cheaper than a fancy milk-powder with a foreign name. So, in their zeal to keep their older sister’s first kid full-bellied and sunny-dispositioned [an older sister who was supporting the family from the little she got], they went above and beyond the call of duty. Ending up over-doing the carbs and out-feeding me [or vice-a-versa].

Do I have Morinaga-beDinich to thank for my healthy lung, the wholesome appetite I enjoyed throughout my life, and a strong bone structure on an arm that is to later become known as “The Hand That Snatchs Netsanet’s Tuto”?! I do!! But what is strangeth and might when all a child, already torn from her mother’s warm bossom, craved for was a sense of belonging?! Netsanet, with her weak voice and twisted arms, didn’t have half the hard-time I did when stepping outside to play. Granted it was a trade off for my rosy cheeks, it wasn’t fun when you seem to inspire a chorus of “Duba.Meret.Qedo.Geba”, even in those with no intention of hurting you, everywhere you go.

Thus… even though I weigh less than I have ever weighed in my life, except maybe my early 20’s, and can see my collar bones if I squinted sideways; I still am a fat girl in my head. I still feel surprised when anything less than a size 14 fits me. Still feel apologetic around tall Ethiopian women with long finger-nails suffering from “chegwara”. And find myself wondering, albeit for a second, if I were the cause of it whenever people behind me laugh uproariously.

My second “odd” combo (more…)

May 6, 2013 at 5:55 am 3 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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May 2013

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