I am surrounded by laughter amidst Tigrinya, Amharic and some snippets of Spanish. I wish I spoke another language. Well, I do, but another more universal language I guess. I think I miss being surrounded by my own languages in a place where I understand almost all of the main ones.
I LOVE Ethiopian and Eritrean food. It is as if my mom transferred this to me in the womb. I’ve not travelled there yet; my only claim to fame is that my mother went to nursing school in Asmara and she can speak the languages and cooks a mean Doro Wat if she is craving it badly and her best friend Ms. Zahra is not able to deliver her a pot on demand. This morning I decided that I would have it for breakfast. The cashier looked at me when I ordered the largest platter of njera and kilwa there was, as if to check my pulse. I smiled and said I could wait 20 minutes for them to get set up. She asked the owner if it was ok to get started on this big meal at 9:30 am. She too looked at me curiously and then when I nodded emphatically, she smiled and said sure and left to go fix it for me.
I guess I miss being surrounded by my culture. I wish there was a Ghanaian café where I could go and hang out all day surrounded by the smells and sounds of my culture. But I guess for now this will have to do. People are friendly here and welcoming and I love the food almost as much as I love my own.
I came here to work on my memoir this morning and the food helped a bit. I am discovering that there are some things that are easy to write and others that I am struggling deeply with. All the people I am writing about are alive, except for my father. What if they hate me after I’m done writing? I’m following some threads of conversation here and there about lawsuits and memoir writing and I’m slightly concerned. Then of course there is the fact that some parts of my memory are just refusing to yield the memories I am diving for. It’ll be a blend of researched facts, memory, factual memory that others can confirm, and the rest in between the grey. What do we call this part? How do people protect themselves? Can there be any sure protection? I don’t intend to hurt anyone but the story must be told.
Enjoy the next snippet:
[As people nodded and traded anecdotes about my father, I traveled.
“Onoa ohwε mboframa ebien sika yεa odze brε me oboso a? Sε wannfa ba nkε oye!” Grandmother would stutter in her frustration, fussing about the meager amount of money my father brought for our upkeep on his sporadic visits. Our father’s departure always evoked such outbursts from Grandmother though none were ever expressed in his presence. Grandmother had custody of Sheela and I after our parents split up. This man was like the occasional relative who, never remembering actual anniversaries, bundled any and every celebration—First Communion or Confirmation, awards or performance debuts—into these sporadic visits.
“Ko ko ko.”
“Whana nyin?” Grandmother would bellow out “The resident house help, Sheela, or I would approach our iron gate and ask the same question.
“It’s me, your daddy,” he’d say if Sheela or I answered the gate.
“Oyε mb0frano hoo papa,” he’d say in Fante if the house-help answered.]