Nostalgia is a daily part of my life. I could be walking down the street minding my own business, then see or smell something that suddenly triggers a forgotten memory, and I am immediately transported across the Atlantic to that beloved city of mine, Addis Ababa.
I miss going to a suk (store) to buy small items, and my polite conversations with Shemsu or Kedir, whichever vendor I had decided to visit on a particular day. Sometimes the conversations were not so polite, remembering the times Shemsu furiously ranted about the bottles of leslasa (soda) I forgot to return.
I miss the lekefa (insults) of the duriyes (troublemakers), directed at myself or others. This used to annoy me so much back then, but like that saying goes you never know how much you love something until it’s gone. I now appreciate the creativity and sarcastic truths behind these lekefas.
I was interested to know what other people missed most about their country, so I talked to a few of my friends and family. Here is what they said:
I miss my friends. I miss having someone taking care of everything for me. There is always someone to cook and clean.
I miss the freedom. I miss the lack of crime. I am of course aware there is some, but it is not as organized and obvious as it is out here. There are no gangs and drugs. I miss driving and not be scared I may get pulled over, or get a DUI.
I miss fights. You can fight, beat up, or get beaten up in your neighborhood with other boys your age. And you are not scared someone is going to come to your house with a gun the next day. There are no grudges or hard feelings; you are once again friends with those same boys after the issue has been solved with the fist fight.
I miss driving out of Addis Ababa to nearby towns, like Nazareth and Dukem. I miss my mom’s kiss every morning; she always waited by the door before I leave the house to kiss me good day. I miss how my dad always inquired about my plans for the day, asking for details about things I did.
I miss how friendly and nice everyone is. I miss how my friends seem to be genuinely carefree, there doesn’t seem to be anything bothering them. You know that restless feeling people seem to have here? Well, it is not there.
Hmmm… Now I miss everything from the food to the people but what I think I miss the most is its unpredictability. For the most part nothing is ever planned and you just leave the house knowing you’re going to end up doing something interesting.
I miss the hustle and bustle of Addis: the rich driving around with their latest most expensive cars, ladies looking fancy and beautiful, the youngsters walking around with a confused identity and self definition. The humble fathers and mothers, the heart touching beggars, the pushing and shoving at taxi drop sites…the thieves …oh the thieves…the street justice where everyone throws a punch on the guy who is caught red-handed trying to steal a cell phone, the hard to get pretty girls…
If you ever been away from the city you would definitely appreciate the pureness and full control of nature over the land…but what I miss the most is this odor that rises from the earth the moment it starts to rain…you may not like it if you have an allergy…but its indescribably so natural. Speaking of rain, it’s mostly the people in the cities that run away from it…but those who know… wait for it, pray about it and when it starts coming down they embrace it with joy….
What do YOU miss most about Ethiopia? Share your thoughts.