At my table on my side of the courtroom, I am standing next to my lawyer. On the other side of the room, standing next to his lawyer, there is Tariku. We all stand facing the judge up on his big stage. To see Tariku’s big rich man belly, that sticks out like joniya, I don’t even have to turn my head, I only have to look to the corner of my eye. Tariku the wanna-be basketball star, with a rich man belly. Who would think that this would ever happen?
On that freezing winter night of fourteen years ago, if any person had said to me that Tariku and me would be standing fighting in a courtroom, I would say to that person where to go and get tsebel for their crazy thoughts. But millions of dollar, real dollar, is not a joke so there can only be fighting about that when one person (HIM) wants to take away all of the 1-800-Abol business as if the other person (ME) did nothing to make all those millions of dollars flow.
What is so funny about this life, you know, is how the sign of trouble is always there from the beginning. But us humans, do we see them? No, only fourteen years after, that is when we look behind like the wife of Lot and see them. And then from the tears at our stupidness, we become the statues of salt.
On that freezing winter night, when Tariku was still my Tariku (but without me being a crazy girlfriend or wife) that is when the trouble started. Ask God and he will tell you, because of course He put the signals there, no? Small small signals that no human person can see until they are far far away from the time. Out of my caring for my Tariku, that night, I wished for him that he could take the whole jebena kotet with him in his taxi, for him not to be lonely and missing home. And I wished for him to have me, his Hiwot, sitting in the back of the taxi also, making his buna for him fresh for his whole shift, passing him the jebena when the light is red.
Well, the light is very very red now, because that Tariku now wants to take the whole jebena kotet with him and go, the whole 1-800-Abol business, but without me in it (for me, he has replacement now). And he thinks I will just be happy to have an apartment to myself, like I used to be back in those poor days. Oh no, not this Hiwot. He wants to take all of the whole millions dollar business with him and leave me just smelling with the smoke of itan.
Also, how I know that small signs of later-big-trouble always come at the beginning? That freezing winter night, my Tariku did not call me and put me in his ear as he always does. Yes, I know that sometimes he did not call if he went on “chick rotation”. But that night, his not calling was not because of “chick rotation”. It was his brain that was turning turning with a special idea, he says, and that idea? To make this 1-800-Abol business. And so he now, after we build it into millions dollar business for fourteen years, he should take all of it with him!
I know, you are thinking, how can that angel Tariku become such monster? Yes, that is what you are thinking, not what I am thinking. To blame, there is a chick. Like every man when his belly starts to grow so you can see him without turning your head, this Tariku got himself a “to-go” wife. That is ok, I said, at that time. You know I am not crazy why don’t you call me girlfriend or wife. Not me. So when he says he is going to return to our country and find a wife, I say good for you my brother. This was at time when we don’t have big big success with 1-800-Abol business yet. We have medium success. Only much later is when we have big success, so big that we can buy the whole taxi company that used to be Tariku’s job and also the whole Mmmmufins company that used to be my job, that is when we have that BIG success. So at the time of medium success is when he gets his “to-go” wife and I am happy for him.
Now? Now I want to take eraser and delete her because she is the cause for the old angel Tariku becoming the monster Tariku.
The old Tariku, he was okay to give me 50% of 1-800-Abol when it come time to separate the business, because two woman and one man in one house, maybe that is ok. Even when you add on top that big million dollar business, maybe that is ok too. But if that woman makes little ones of herself and her husband, little babies, then comes time to beselam mesenebabet.
How the trouble came, is like this. That tiny apartment, that small apartment, you remember? Well, that was long forgotten by this time. One day, we (me, Tariku, Miss To Go) were in new kitchen of their house, big like restaurant, and sitting at the table. Tariku was almost agreeing to this 50/50 mesenebabet when Miss To Go all of a sudden paints the conversation with red red trouble.
“But if you ask me,” she said, just when the discussion was finishing. Nobody asked her, but always like this she starts to talk, in a singysongy voice, “If you ask me, 50/50 is tinish too much.”
“Tinish too much? What is it, tinish or too much?” I say.
Tariku laughs, thinking this joke. But I don’t laugh, Miss To Go doesn’t laugh. Woman knows woman.
In answer to me, MTG shakes her head too much side to side, like the Indians do, but in a more too much way than they do. So there, my answer. 50% is too much for me to take for sinibit.
Me! Me who it was MY idea to start 1-800-Abol Buna Home Delivery and Preparation business! MY idea to start 1-800-Abol Buna Home Delivery and Preparation business that has 3 hours ceremony option ($300 plus expenses), 2 hours ceremony option ($250 plus expenses), 1 hour ceremony option ($100 plus expenses), and 20 minute express ceremony option (the Signature Abol) which ($50 plus expenses). (But the funny is, Signature Abol is the most popular! Even some regular ferenj customers, they like so much to have it ready in morning when they come downstairs before work, they give us house key so that we come in and prepare in early morning while upstairs they shower and dress!)
I cross my arms and rest them on the table, and I lean forward to where MTG is sitting across from me, petting the marble top like the head of a child. I lean forward like a good gossip MTG is about to tell me.
“Oh really?” I say, “50% is too much? So what is a good percent of 1-800-Abol to give me for sinibit?”
“If you ask me –
“I just ask you.”
“If you get the equipment, the coffee making things, that is enough.”
I think my ears they must be full of hot red kisel and someone pour spoonful of itan into them, because the smoke that comes from my ears, when I hear that!
MTG sees the smoke, I think she must, because next she explains.
“My husband Tariku, if it wasn’t him there would be no business, ok? My husband Tariku had idea, ok? And also, if my husband Tariku wasn’t driving taxi, how would 1-800-Abol be delivering buna to customer? How much taxi customer my husband Tariku lose because he was delivering buna? The special thing about 1-800-Abol is the delivering, ok? And without my husband Tariku there would be no delivering. Every woman can make buna with her eyes closed, ok? But that is not what made 1-800-Abol million dollar business. It is –
I finish for her, with the same false sweet but knife sharp voice she uses, “Your husband Tariku.”
I look at Miss To Go very carefully after that. And I look at Tariku that used to be angel, also very carefully. He is quiet. Like he heard new gospel he looks, his eyes shine like they had listiro service, so already he is on the way to becoming monster.
And so I say, out loud but to myself, and to God of course, looking up at the ceiling that is high high and with beautiful carving like necklace all around the sides, “To blame, I have only myself. Only myself? Because that freezing winter night when I had idea, I wished for this man to take it all with him?”
There is an answer, not from God, from Tariku, “But what did you give me to take that night? What did you give me really? One empty sini.”
So from that day on that round kitchen table, round like where equals and where family sit, here we are today. I have one long rectangle table, so long like it can sit fifteen people, but only for me and my lawyer. And on the other side, Tariku has his long table carrying the shadow of his rich man belly, but only for him and Miss To Go.
To si’ol they can Go. Now I want 100%. That is exactly tinish too much.