Prompt # 19 – music

More Notes from the Canadian honey jar

May 30, 2017

PROMPT: “You don’t understand love.” / “Fikir aygebashim”

This is a translation of a song lyric from one of Mahmoud Ahmed’s songs. But it crops up often in other songs by other singers too, either word-for-word, or in its general sense. This accusatory stance is common in habesha love songs. Often it is directed from the man towards the woman. Her inability to understand love makes her even more of a draw. The challenge I guess. Every man likes a challenge and so on. Easier to accuse the other person of not understanding love than to admit and face the fact that she doesn’t like you. It’s not that she doesn’t understand love. It’s that she doesn’t love you, not even close, and probably never will. Rejection. Hard to take. For anyone. Most especially a man. Most especially a habesha man. Those last two sentences are as false as they are true. Men seem immune to rejection just as often, or totally oblivious to it. It encourages them as often as it discourages them, if not more so. So that line, that stance, is not as much about denial as I think, maybe. It’s about…a refusal to disengage in the face of disinterest?

Possible that Mahmoud was my ‘first’ in terms of crooners. Or the one that stuck in my head the earliest. Why was that? He’s handsome but so were the others. (Remembering when I ran into him in Les Brasseurs in Geneva on a Friday (Saturday?) night out with my friends. How old and worn his face looked up close. How strange without that customary smile, even though he wasn’t frowning either. His face ‘at rest’, without that ‘mask’ or ‘persona’ – quite an experience for me. The encounter lasted a very short time. At the time I think I was more worried about having been ‘caught’ in a bar, as if he had a direct line to my parents!)

Idea: Mahmoud as a character in the story? Or if not a character, then at least a major part of the narrative somehow? Research his biography. Maybe the main narrator did a documentary on him? Or privately tracks his movements around the globe, attends as many concerts of his as she can. Basically a groupie. He’s substitute father figure to her.

That’s it. His fatherliness. There’s something very fatherly about him. At least the version of him she came to know, an older version. Did he express the emotions her own father couldn’t? Was he “emotionally available” in a way her own father wasn’t? That seems a stretch. A bit of reverse justifying. If that is what is going on in her subconscious and the reason why she becomes attached to him from an early age, she’d have no way of verifying it. But it’s an interesting direction to take the fiction narrative in.

That ‘moon’ song … Look at the lyrics. Does he even mention a moon in it??

So, how about you, yigebashal weyis yigebahal? (Do you ‘get it’? Do you not ‘get it’?)  And if not, what’s the best workbook for studying?

5 thoughts on “Prompt # 19 – music

  1. I love it!!! She becomes so obsessed with all his songs and imagines them as love stories. She creates characters out of them. She is consumed by him. Every decision she makes is preceded by the thought “what would Mahmoud do?” 🙂


  2. I must say the concept of a Mahamoud groupie is a novel one, as compared to, say a Tilahun one 🙂

    Which “moon song” was it, by the way?

    I believe fiqir yigebagnal. It just ends up not panning out, for one reason or another. Maybe I fall under the group who nurse their love silently and hope that the other person somehow understands the love from my body language 🙂

    “Yigebagnal” could be a “qine”, you know? “I understand” and “I deserve”

    A dope one with the kind of plaintive tone in question:


    1. Yeah it seems like the idea has got fans (two! three if you count moi) I have no idea which one is the moon song either! But I’m convinced he has some lyrics about the moon. Aw sorry maybe your body needs to learn new languages haha. The kine is brilliant! Thanks for the link. The song is a bit ‘hectic’ for my tastes but thanks anyway!


  3. well, go Mahamoud! 🙂

    maybe i need to make use of the language that i already know. feels like i’m doing a disservice to the 100,000 yrs that humankind spent on developing language 🙂


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