I wonder if this word "family" includes those big-mouthed sisters of mine. I, "man," have been discriminated, disregarded, insulted and humiliated by these female figures for years. Yes, female!
Mom...? Mom and I got along fine. Didn't we, Mom? I never crossed the line the way I wanted to, although there were times I believed that it was you who wrote that song, "You can't touch this," for M.C. Hammer. Our basic conflict was based on that tape recorder (or was it a gramaphone), that was always covered with that colorful dantél, which gave it the grace of a holly tabot. Remember? If I wanted to listen to the same song twice, I had to wait one or two hours because it was considered naked aggression to press the two taboo buttons: Fast Forward and Rewind. Thoughts of touching those buttons were drowned out by your stern voice, "Aliseber alehi!!?"
Therefore, in order to listen to my favorite song, Kennedy's "Libayn S'taroCHw," I had to sit with those females from Abol Buna 'till sostegna, listening to their idir, Tsebel werè. Ok, so I learned how to make ye suuf fitfit. Not the kind of fair-trade policy world economies function under.
These days, I have a stereo in my car. The moment I get into my car, I instinctively press the fast forward button. All the way to work I am accompanied by the soft "whhhrrillll" of a tape fast- forwarding. Coming back, it is the rewind button. Been doing this for years. I don't think I have ever listened to music in my car. I have been banished from the front seat of all my friends' cars. Maybe it's time for either the Tsebel thing or the ferenj therapy?
P.S. Mom, do not send me more of that "imnet" stuff. I tried it the other day when I had a qizshet. Rubbed it all over my body 'till I looked like some Hindu Guru. Didn't work. In fact, I had to take one extra shower, which caused me gudegna wigat. I guess that stuff works only when combined with those soft fingers of yours. You used to touch my forehead with imnet, and then say to me, "Teshefafneh Tegna." The next day, I would be fine. I miss that, and I miss you.
I do remember my beloved sisters very often. In fact I remembered them… when was the last time? Days ...weeks… months ... ah, a year ago.
A year ago I went to Van Gogh's Museum in Amsterdam. It is not that I am into this thing, painting. I accidentally happened to be around, so what the heck.
As far as paintings are concerned, I've only known one successful painter: Sisai. He made it to the top. He was the only one in my neighborhood who managed to sell his expensive inquTaTash paintings. They were so beautiful that we met his exorbitant price - Huletun simuni. It was like an investment then.
I've learnt some basics from Sisai's paintings. In his paintings the angels are beautiful with wings. And Jesus is Jesus. I mean, handsome, kind, gentle.
Sisay's counterpart, Worku's paintings were relatively cheaper, but they came with a problem: nobody could figure out who was who except Worku. How can a bald angry man be Jesus? Well, Jesus didn't like his new hairstyle and was upset. According to Worku, a guy in a Landcruiser in one of his paintings was Ghiorghis. But, but, what happened to his horse? "You have to move along with time."
His angels were equipped with AK-47s and swords.
It was armed with this kind of art appreciation and knowledge that I went to the Museum. The very moment I entered its doors, I felt like an artist who looked at things in another dimension.
Most of the visitors seemed to know a lot more. "Have a good look at this flower. Isn't it wonderful!?" said one to the other. I looked at the flower in question from every direction... dimension...yes it was a flower, the same flower I glanced at when I first entered the Museum. And it was very unremarkable.
"Beautiful," I nodded, as if I understood the very core of that painting and I walked on.
Another painting. "Wow... superb". You were expected to repeat those words. "Marvelous."
Then I came across a painting titled, " Shoe". It was just an old shoe, tired and sad. I looked at it, really looked at it and… and I felt it. My whole being stopped pretending...brain started functioning ...and questions flowed through me. Where did he get this idea? ... Why a shoe? ...Ok, why this old ugly shoe? When was the last time I'd looked at my own shoes?
I had shoes too, for which I had deep feelings. I ain't no painter, but I still can write some. Those nasty Qoda shoes my sisters back home used to wear were given such incredible latitude in our house, abusing that Tawla floor with their merciless speel sole, while my poor harmless shera-CHama was denied its God-given right to enter the elfign.
You don't want to hear my sisters talk about my shera. They sounded just like those experts at the UN going on, half scientifically, half folkloricly about the environment, pollution etc.
There were times I felt like organizing a revolution. "Power to the people!" "To hell with the environment!" and "Only shera in the salon!"
Slight problem: My sisters were the majority, the people…and power went to them. I had to sit there, barefoot, while they watched their favorite TV program, "Ke Majet Iske Adebabi," undisturbed.
They sat there comfortably, and would occasionally turn to me. "Ehh... can you give me that Gaabi ....please, that Vaseline, ...please this kokoos... ." And I had to do all this barefoot. Qibatamoch!
But my beloved shera, which scored those magnificent goals the world has yet to see, was not allowed to watch my favorite Saturday night, "Big League Soccer." And now I want to say to my shera, it is not that I hated you that you had to stay on the veranda all night long. It was because of the pressure imposed upon me. And I am sorry.
To my sisters, I want to tell you this, so that you can hate me more… It is "get even" time.
Do you really want to know what happened to your fat cat "Wirro"? Yes, that cat which used to enjoy all your attention and maqolameT?
Do you remember the day that big, well-fed cat of yours, be manalebign-net ate my one beloved, extra talented bird? Never mind. I certainly do.
I have never seen that ugly cat doing a thing except sleep on the couch, wake up, stretch, eat and then go back to sleep ... same as my sisters.
I was only five meters away when it happened, and I was paralyzed to stop it. Who would have thought that lazy cat could be faster than a bullet? Within a few seconds, it was all over: he lunged at my bird, broke its neck, and before I could take a deep breath, my poor bloody bird was in his mouth. "Whatcha gonna do?" his eyes mocked me.
I ran to my room as MY SISTERS' cat enjoyed his meal.
My bird was special. A super Telafi . It used to make those magnificently perfect "V"s. I used to love listening to those sounds he used to make while flirting with his just yeteTelefu female companions ... Buk.. Buk.. Buk...Buurr.... ere goraw ... aye wendu ...Buk.. Buk.. Buk...Buurr .. Bir-Ambar Seberliwo ... Besides that, though, my bird brought me a minimum of two female birds a week. The females would lay 10-20 eggs every six months. At 1.50 a piece, I was on my way to being rich, rich, rich. So rich that I could have covered my sisters' qibat expenses.
Well, I gathered the few labas left of what was my bird and we had a burial ceremony. Guy friends came along with their best birds to pay their last respects. My sisters were there too. They came not because they felt sorry for my bird, but so that I would forgive their "miskin" cat. Miskin my… .
After the ceremony, Birhanu "Qey-sew" and I stayed behind. Birhanu Qey-sew was our guy with flavor. I still love his "Cool and the Gang" style. No matter what the weather, Qey-sew wore a long kaport. He fit the description of a handsome Afro man who walked like a pimp. Early in the morning, after having a breakfast of dereq dabo be-shai, Qey-sew would stick a toothpick in his mouth and utter his trademark greeting, "Engna Tena."
Anyway, Qey-sew was kind of the volunteer social worker of the neighborhood. Well, more of a shrink. He was at Guttoo Meda with Misganu when he heard about my tragedy. He was in the middle of counseling Misganu who was afraid to go home with his ugly school report. He had failed the 6th grade Ministry exam for three consecutive years. Qey-sew was telling Misganu that Albert Einstein had failed the same exam eight times, and assured Misganu that he could still make a good scientist.
Misganu was not worried about his future. He was afraid of facing his father, who worked in a garage and had hands that were half iron. Misganu had experienced the strength of those hands on several occasions, and had luckily survived. He was not sure if he could handle one more punch. That was the last time we saw Misganu. He joined the military.
Qey-sew confirmed that the best bird he had ever known had died, and that no other bird had ever made or will ever make that extra perfect "V." He asked how I felt about it. I told him that the bird was all I had, now he was gone, and so went my dream. Qey- sew nodded. What's done is done, he said. The bird was gone. I had to live with it. But the CAT, Ya…!
As an aside here, I would somehow have understood if that cat was starving. But that molqaqa used to get two breakfasts before I got one. His motivation was pure tenkol.
Qey-sew understood that. He came to a quiet conclusion that the bird had to be eliminated and that he would, of course, help. I balked. No. That was going too far. I couldn't do it. If I did something to that cat, I would have to move to my uncle's in Gulellé. And I was not ready for that.
But how can I deal with seeing that cat relaxing on the sofa everyday, deliberately licking his lips whenever he saw me as a reminder of how how much he enjoyed my bird? What kind of a person would that make me?
Finally, I gave the cat to Qey-sew. Quietly, Birhanu ey- sew put it in a QereTiT and walked away, the qereTiT flung stylishly on his back. Eigna Tenna ...
P.S. to my sisters, I don't know if this will make you feel any better, but I gave the cat a good meal (QnTibtabi) before I gave it away. And I asked Qey- sew to be as kind as he could. Don't ask me how kind Qey-sew could ever be.