Hearts Abroad / Hearts Abroad (Diasporas on love) / Immigrant Life / Novel / Writing

Prompts: June 2017

More Notes from the Canadian honey jar

#22: June 06, 2017

…She’s the one who wants to ask the deep, probing questions that go to the heart of the matter, forgetting that it is because those questions have been asked, and answered, many times and in many ways, and in the privacy that is appropriate to them, for us to reach this point, be where we are now, celebrating.

…the fact of the gathering and celebration is evidence/proof that there’s only one question left to ask (“Do you take…?”) and its answer is a foregone conclusion. It’s more of a ritual back/forth, call/response than a true inquiry.

Funny that it’s asked by a third party! (In a way, it’s already been asked/answered during the proposal.)

(willingly?) forgetting all this, she asks all those questions at the wrong time/place, as if she’s the only one privy to their importance.

(the filmmaker character)

…everyone indulges her, because fact is no one actually asks them these questions apart from each other, and it’s a novel experience. Amusing.

When you already know the answers, the questions aren’t challenging. Just rote.

#25: June 12, 2017

‘But the wedding took SO long!’ It’s pretty funny, but also so true. We spent so many days together in the lead up to the wedding, the wedding itself, (less so after the wedding). That’s often what comes to my mind when I get nostalgic about it. The days of the wedding. It was almost like a season. A season that will never return. Probably that’s the same for everyone affected too. We have nothing else to look back on. The other memories of the relationship belong to the couple alone. The wedding is the shared memory.

…Start each story at the defining moment of the relationship. By ‘defining moment’ what I mean is, those points at which the relationship could have ended instead of going forward. (Those times when each of them had to decide ‘no I’m going to stay in this, stay with her/him’.)

  • – first true insult/hurt/disappointment/broken promise
  • – first appearance of viable alternative to that person (opportunity not pursed though)
  • – first time acted on that other attraction, but decided to end it/go no further
  • – first time the person really really really pissed you off
  • – first character trait/habit that you knew would get on your nerves and you’d have to just put up with

#27: June 14, 2017

gaga hair iithe saying that love feels like/should feel like when you take out your cornrows (shurruba) (but I think of all the pain that comes before, when getting them done-riff on this)

The first time I came across this expression was on the habesha blog seleda. It was a really great blog that ‘authentically’ showed the diaspora habesha perspective, mixing Amharic and English, etc. but it doesn’t seem to be online any more. Too bad! Of course the people behind it are a mystery too. No photos, no names. Typical habesha cagey-ness. Ugh.

So anyway, it was on there that a woman wrote about how being in love felt inside like that relief deep deep relief of taking out your shurruba. It was the best expression I’d ever heard. Once upon a time it would have only been girls who would have understood the reference, but now of course a guy can get it too, since they wear shurruba as much as if not more than girls.

But the reason it feels so good is, of course, because it was so tightly done to begin with, so that it wouldn’t mechebrer too soon, so that it would last as long as possible. The longer it has lasted, of course, also mean the more dirt has accumulated in there.

(What about the kind of love that feels like weeks-old, dirty shurruba then? How awful!)

And before it was so super tightly done, it had to be combed, washed, divided in rows, oiled, etc.

Depending on the hair type, all these steps would have been equally painful.

So all that pre-shurruba process, what’s it an equivalent of, and the shurruba itself? Life? Single life? Haha maybe! That could be an interesting metaphor for it.

Yeah, shurruba as a metaphor for all the things we keep tightly coiled inside, and that have caked and knotted in on themselves (the dirt, the oil, etc.) and falling in love as a chance to let all that go.

Of course when you open it up it’s kinda ugly, kinda stinky and more than a bit gross. You feel great but the person who has to watch it may not feel so great about it.

It’s the undoing of the shurruba but also the massaging your head afterwards that feels very good. Massaging it yourself or having someone massage you.

Sometimes it gets knotted and you have to tear away at clumps of hair.

Sometimes you can just pull at one length of the three that make the braid, and undo the whole thing in one stroke.

Or you go coil by coil.

The tips, it’s hardest to start undoing it from the tips if they have been braided right to the very tip. You can spend time trying to split that open, or you can just tug at a bit of hair midway up and get it to come out easier that way.

Who wears shurruba anyway?? Unless it’s to go with habesha kemis! Or to go to bed and to open up the next morning to have that ‘wavy’ looking hair (either because that’s the only way you can get the look, which ferenjoch call twist-out, or because you don’t want to wet your hair).

Clearly there’s a lot to riff on. I haven’t been very focused on writing this prompt today. But I do make my hair in braids a lot these days so I’ll make sure to pay attention to what else pops up in my head while I’m cornrowing it!

#30: June 20, 2017

The old folks will tell you you don’t know the meaning of tizita/true tizita until you’ve buried your beloved. (didn’t say goodbye, there’s something only the two of you know one of you has yet to be forgiven for)…

..Before that, maybe both him and her got it from the perspective of remembering their young love, before marriage and before children and before political changes changed every aspect of life.

…Just as with books, one’s understanding/how deeply one can feel a song also changes depending on at which point in one’s life one is listening to that song.

So it’s not that the old folks would say you don’t know love or tizita until you’ve buried your beloved. It’s that they would realize it themselves for the first time only later on. They don’t know it themselves until life makes them feel it.

Must check the lyrics. From what I remember, though, the beloved in tizita is forever out of reach (except in the Bezawork version, which ends on ‘yesew nehina min yideregal’ = the guy is taken! Was he taken when they had their relationship or did he get taken after?)

…But it never occurs to me to think of the romances of my grandparents! Was there ever any romantic moments between them?

…it’s hard to imagine my grandmother now having romantic tizita. But maybe she does. And maybe it’s not even about my grandfather, but about some youngster that she had her eye on when she was very young. She was 16 when she married, I think. Hell she might have even had her eye on other young men after she got married. Why not! But it’s easier for me to think of her having tizita for her children, the ones that are gone (from life) and the ones that are gone (from Ethiopia), and maybe less so for her grandchildren. I’m projecting, of course, romanticizing. But in those quiet moments at night or in the afternoon or at any time really, who sneaks up on her mind? Her departed children. That is my safest guess.

…So what does his tizita for her consist of? Does it bring him joy or sorrow? Is it a collection of regretted moments or cherished moments? What else is there? Conversations, I guess.

…Is that all tizita is? A one-way conversation?

…Anyone permanently lost – that’s the best candidate for tizita. Failing that, anyone extremely out of reach. So extreme that it feels permanent.

…between Bezawork and Mahmoud no one else existed – a match made in heaven? I hadn’t thought of that until now. Maybe my main character considers them her spiritual mother and father. Well no not ‘spiritual’ but her ‘love gods’? Her spirit-guides in matters of the heart? Now we’re getting somewhere. Others might think of different pairings, like Aster and Tilahun, or Neway and Kuku, etc. etc.

What else when I think of ‘tizita’? Great distances, long distances like the kind I ‘cross’ in my mind when I see a picture of a rural landscape. Moments like those that remind me of how vast the earth is, how vast even just one country, when one small corner of it could be so huge, so uncrossable except by sight. How easy it is to cross vast distances, entire valleys and mountain ranges, simply by sight! You can see a whole region in a matter of seconds! So it’s those distances that come to mind when I think of tizita, as if the singer is here wherever I am when I’m listening to the song, and the subject of the song (‘subject’??), the beloved, is on the other side of those kinds of distances, where only intangibles, like vision and voice and thoughts, can reach. Not least because the tempo is so slow!

 

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