1-800-Abol: Chapter Four

Chapter Four

As the sun is coming out and my work shift is ending, when it is the end of James and Tariku returns to life, first thing I do when my car I turn in the direction of home is to throw away the Venti Starbucks cup. That cup which for my whole night it had been my kind of jebena. When the traffic light is on red, I open my window, I crush the cup small small as small it can be, and I throw it like basketball directly into garbage bin on sidewalk. And I am not talking the big garbage container big like some people bachelor apartment. I am talking regular small basket like teacher has under desk, but street size. Nothin’ but net! But there is no one to see this because it is the kidase hour of dawn, only God sees, so if my story you don’t believe then Him you can ask.

I got buna in da back. Das coffee for y’all if my language y’all don talk. Yeah yeah uh huh uh huh…” Like this I am singing in my head what will be in the future the music for the commercial of my buna enterprise. The lyrics I am creating in my head, driving into the parking lot of my building. The commercial, I can see it in small parts, not all clear, just parts like this time morning. So I’m bopping my head, making a soft rap song under my breath, as I pick up that special little sini from its special place at the back of my taxi and walk into the building.

Last night, when I remember I did not call my Hiwot like I always call her from my taxi, and then when I called her, she does not pick up. It is not very late, so I’m surprised that so soon she went to sleep. So I leave it. Instead the time I spend directing the commercial for buna enterprise in my head, just like I see on the weekend television for habesha people, all the fast spinning pictures and booming voice, announcing this great business. Then I remember, of course! This enterprise is not for our people. What habesha is going to pick up phone and order buna service from stranger like it is pizza order? No no. The target for this is ferenjoch. The ones who like to ask questions and increase their information about the world and its wonderful mix of cultures.

When the apartment door I open and go in, it is quiet. This normally is very good. One advantage of coming home to Hiwot, there is no blablabla in the morning when all I want to do is straight to my bed. But today I am excited to talk, for that reason, one hour early I have come home. Together we can have breakfast, and I can teach her my genius idea.

But, Hiwot is not there. Also bad: there is no breakfast for me. On normal times, she will put my breakfast under a dish. Only one hour or so passes from her leaving for work and my returning from work, so I find it still warm to eat. Some mornings, if I go somewhere else to sleep and I don’t eat it, she warms it for her dinner. Very efficient organizm we are. Great business partners we will be.

But today it is chechebsa day. She knows that in all the years maybe only one or two chechebsa mornings I have not come home in morning. But no Hiwot, no chechebsa under a dish today. I think, maybe in the fridge she put it, or it is still in the pot on its stove. No. In the fridge is just bags and bags of back-home spice and food like mini-mercato. In the pot is just the burned bottom of last night’s kik wot she is soaking in water. And also in the cupboards I look. In there is like mini jan meda full of gabi and netela. Under the table, there is just the refugees from the last time she decided to pass a broom over the place. In the oven, only forgotten dirkosh that if you try eat it inside your mouth will be massacred. So, for final attempt under the sink I look. Who knows how the mind of the other half of earth population work? Maybe under there is my breakfast, like message I am supposed to try understand while I eat. But under there, no breakfast. All the buna equipment is what is under there.

So that is where she keeps all that stuff, I think. In the back back, there is the rekebot. On its side it is standing, with the drawer open and the green hair of the buna carpet falling out like if the rekebot is a sheep with it mouth full of grass. On top that is the flat iron thing for roasting the beans. And the long iron stick for moving the beans around. It is leaning on it like old man. There is two tall piles of sini upside down, sort of falling sideways a little bit. Sixteen I count, eight and eight. Only eight is not enough for whole enterprise. And the itan mesob so old it is like all dusty brown with only some tizita of its original color. There is the barya mukecha too. In the bowl is like small cemetery for old dead little things that live under sinks. On everything there is dust, because these things Hiwot does not use everyday. Maybe one or two time a year she takes them out, for holiday. But a little heat I feel somewhere around there. So I move by hands over these things. The itan thing. It is warm. With my finger I move the ash and pull it back quickly because I touch a small small rock of still red coal. This woman! One day she will burn us up!

I call her telephone. Probably she will not answer becau –


“Sister, the greeting of God’s morning to you too.”

“Who this.”

“Who this?”


“I hope you are more lucky than me and that you have chance for breakfast.”

“Oh Kuye.”

“Yes Tarikuye.”

Irsitt aderegkuh aydel?

Min mersat bicha, bere-hab litgeyignim asebeshibetal.

She admits, yes she did forget about me but no, she is not planning to starve me into dying only because I did not call her the whole yesterday night. Even that I have to remind her, because she did not notice I didn’t call.

“I was so busy thinking!”

“Thinking of burning me up in my sleep? Why you put real burning coal under sink?”

“Oh!” she shouts, but for different reason. “The things under the sink. You remind me. Kuye can you take them all out? I must wash and clean them.”

“For what?” Only Enat and the two sini she uses everyday. That is why all the buna things under sink sit there all year like museum objects nobody visit.

“And we will need more sini. Oh hundreds more sini.”

That one sini is still in my pocket. The one she give me to carry when I go for my shift last night. “Why you need so much sini?”

But like crazy person, to myself I could be talking. And she also like crazy person to herself she is talking, because next thing I hear is not answer.

“And big industrial size jebena. Where to buy that?” She says. “We have to think, who is going back home? We can ask them to bring. They make them big big, you know.”

That reminds me. “What happened to Enat?” I ask. Under the sink, or on the stove, the only buna thing missing is Hiwot’s special jebena that she keeps like some people they keep precious pets. To this day one finger she has not allowed me to place on it. I think, sometimes, if it breaks or even a little bit cracks, same will happen to Hiwot.

“Oh, don’t ask me about Enat,” she says. “What happened to Enat, you don’t want to know.”

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