We were dead before we were born


I walked around in culottes made from fustian. It didn’t bother me. All the kids around, boys and girls worn in the same drapes, some knew, some old and tattered but all the same.

I didn’t go to school, again I was not bothered, most if not all the kids didn’t either. I thought it was our destiny not man made. In retrospect, I was wrong.

What I was a bit bewildered that God was so cruel, lacked the sense of lagom in treating his subjects the same.

I lost my bother at the age of two, soon to be followed by another and a third. I wondered why all those punishments befallen to one household, as if one was an enormous tragedy to burden. I was wrong. It was not the work of God as I thought. Our household was vulnerable to a predicament man made, sagged to every member was pari-passu exposed. It was only a question of time when and how each member was affected and caught.

We were told to believe that we lived in a nirvana, divinely chosen by dictators to lead, so we prayed to God to extend their earthly life to perpetuate our misery so long as we lived, because without them at the helm we could incur the worst possible we may not have known to befall.

How we were wrong that we were led by demons in the shape of angels.
Add to those, at a day long walking distances we had six military garrisons, stationed under the pretext protecting us from foreign enemies. Again we beloved whole heartedly this was so. How we were wrong. We didn’t have foreign enemies hoovering around. They were our enrmies making sure our lives were reduced to dust and blown in every directions.

As if the death and paralysing illness were not enough, the Amhara uniform dressed brigands were plundering and needlessly shedding innocent blood as they pleasured and see it necessary to quench their blood thirst.

That too, we were told to believe was a necessary sacrifice to atone our sins. How wrong we were to accept this.

Those who miraculously escaped the torrent of wrath, believed to be God sent were encouraged to peregrinate in any direction to search a safer place to live. So we did, we went south, east north and west to labour to make ends meet.
The return we obtained was meagre we couldn’t support ourselves let alone those who were left behind. Once migrated those people never returned to their birth place. It was an impossible journey to me it back to settle. We endured abuse and dehumanisations we never considered ourselves human beings.

At least the relatives and people We left behind had a sense of self-esteem, a justification sense of identity among themselves, albeit in a collective misery and deprivation, intellectual call a psychology of scarcity.

Everyone saw themselves no worse than other and felt relived and satisfied.

That created the mind of envy and jealousy. What this means was this: as long as your neighbour was as poor and miserable as you are, you are prepared to accept your destiny. But the moment you find out your neighbour has strike serendipity, say found a sachet of money or a pot of gold while ploughing the land, wealth could be achieved through anything else other than luck, you would start to to turn around against this lucky household, as the household has broke free from the siege of poverty, that you have not succeed in doing.

Knowing the danger of animosity, the lucky household therefore would go on pretending that it had no such luck and continue to manifest as if their fortune had changed for the better.

They would behaviour and pretend as if they are poor instead of reaching out and help others, for fear the people asking for help would be endless beyond they could cope.

Temesgn Kebede

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