Monday, April 03, 2006


Saturday, March 25, 2006

It’s funny how we find wonderful people in the most random places. I know that my family has grown so much during my time in Ethiopia. Maybe I met them at some foggy point in the past, or I’ve always been related to them, however distantly, but we’d never met, or I never even knew they existed, but somehow we have stumbled upon each other, and now here we are. Love means so much more than blood.

One of these people is our contract taxi driver, Abiy. Strikingly handsome, incredibly caring, and only usually punctual, he is a beautiful soul. When he was younger he was a potter, actor, and dancer, but in order to support his wife he bought a taxi. He now has a baby boy that is turning 1 in April. But Abiy still carries around a photo album, tucked in the back of his glove compartment. It’s filled with pictures of him dancing in costume and in the studio with clay smudged on his cheeks. They are souvenirs, wistful memories, dreams stifled and silenced by responsibility. My mind is constantly chattering with fantastic ideas, goals, aspirations… one day will they be barely audible? Simply whispers amidst my wrinkles and gray hairs?

Anyway, last night my grade had an “old skool” movie night at school, with “Mrs. Doubtfire” and “Cool Runnings.” It was quite the success, a lot of people came and we made almost 2,000 birr. I had asked my friend beforehand if she could give me a ride home afterwards and she sweetly and enthusiastically responded, “Yeah, of course Samriye!” But with 15 minutes left in the movie, at about 9:45 p.m., she told me that she couldn’t give me a ride. The movie had gone later than expected, her mom was calling and telling her to come home that instant, she was really sorry. Excuse me, but SHIT. I was screwed. It’s not so easy to get around in Ethiopia. I don’t have a driver, I can’t drive here, my mom doesn’t drive… We have Abiy, but I didn’t want to put him through the hassle of coming all the way back to ICS to pick me up when he had already picked up Sally and my mom. I talked to a couple of people, hinted that I need a ride home, but they don’t live by me. I was even more screwed. There wasn’t really anyone I feel close enough to to have asked for a ride home. Since most people only live about 5 minutes from school, they make a big deal of going to CMC, even though at night it’s only about 20 minutes from ICS. I was only even going to my aunt’s house, maybe 5 minutes closer from CMC depending on your travel route, but that would still be too much to ask.

I called Abiy. His wife picked up, told me that Abiy was asleep, and my voice was quavering as I said goodnight. Maybe I get worked up over small things, maybe this wasn’t something to cry about, but as a 17-year-old girl I don’t want to be stranded on the other side of Addis at 10:30 at night with no way to get home except taking a random taxi. Which I absolutely was not about to do. I hate my lack of ability here, my dependence on others to get things done… driving, shopping, even talking and communicating.

But I guess I’m lucky or I’ve done enough good in the world, because Abiy called me back a few minutes later. His wife had woken him up and told him I’d called. He was at ICS 30 minutes later, and I was one of the last three people there. He groggily smiled and told me that he had rushed out of bed to come get me; he even still had his pajamas on beneath a shirt and a jacket. He said that he is my telick wendim, my big brother, and besides, he promised my dad that he would get me, whenever, wherever, regardless. I apologized and thanked him numerous times, told him what had happened, and he shook his head and sighed, “She is not a good girl, I do not like her.” We arrived home and one last time I said, “Betam amesegenalehu, betam yekerta. Thank you so much, I’m so sorry.” He said, “Of course, it’s no problem. Dehna derri.” “Dehna derr.” Goodnight.

Once in bed my mom told me that when Abiy had picked her up he was very happy. Sally ended up getting a ride home with her dad, so Abiy didn’t have to take her all the way to CMC in the evening traffic. He hadn’t been able to eat lunch and had been working since 6 a.m., so all he had to do was drop off my mom (he lives in the same neighborhood as us), and then he could go home, eat, and go to bed. The way I see it, either Abiy’s just an incredible person and takes his work very seriously to have picked me up at 11, or my dad threatened some pretty scary things if the whole “whenever, wherever, regardless” thing didn’t happen. Just because my dad’s on the other side of the world doesn’t mean he doesn’t have connections in Ethiopia… Haha, but seriously, Abiy is a wonderful person, and it’s not just that he takes his work seriously, it’s that he really cares.

It’s funny how we find wonderful people in the most random places. Even a little blue and white taxi, just one among thousands, on the streets of Addis. My family has grown so much during my time in Ethiopia; someone I never even knew existed is now my telick wendim. Love means so much more than blood.