Inside a Shack By Teodros Kiros (PhD)
A man in his thirties, with wrinkled cheek and graying hair, is sitting by a fireplace gazing at the stars cutting through the lonely sky.
The man looks as if he is building a house in his dreams, with his hands drawing the outlines of his future home and his eyes already admiring the finished house. His lips are moving as he is writing a letter to a friend and describing his newly built home.
“He is inside his head,” said a man, who was sitting nearby.
Another added, “ What a wonderful way to be. Here in Ethiopia, we can only build in dreams…”
He stopped. He too took a solace by gazing at the stars.
The tin shack was rapidly filling with guests, who sat on the floor in pairs. There were four of them. Two women and four men, who just graduated from Haile Selassie University, and are now idling with degrees in the humanities. Only one of them is employed in a computer company. The rest have no prospects of securing employment, and they are already contemplating to leave for America.
As the host of the party, he was busy serving them with the local drink Tej. He had a few bottles in the corner.
He was quiet through the night. His guests did the talking.
One of the men said, “ So are you keeping up with the politics of the so called 2010 election…”
“ Of course. How can I prevent my ears from hearing”?
One of the two women said, “Hash. No politics please. We just came to chill out”
The evening is now deeply dark. The nocturnal beasts are out. A Hyena is chasing a goat. The goat is running for its life. A shepherd chases the hyena. The hyena is also running for his life.
“ You see”, the young woman, said, “ Every being is chasing another”
The older boy exploited the statement and said,
“ That is what I am talking about. The politicians are also chasing each other”
“ Stop it”, said, the younger woman, “ No politics. I am talking about animals”
He laughed and said, “ I am talking about animals too.”
“Stop it again. This time I am serious, ” she screamed.
The man continued and said.
“ I am worried about my country. God knows what will come next. I mean the opposition.”
The older boy replied, “ If Birtukan is released, I hope she runs for an election, with the whole country watching and the international observers there”
The quiet woman said, “ If the opposition gets its act right and genuinely unites all the parties and elects Birtukan, then we might see, signs of a new future”
“ That is a big if. First of all, I doubt that the tyrant will release her in time, so that she will compete against him. If she is released, however, then Ethiopia has a future, and the existing party could be legally defeated.”
The night is turning into dawn, and the upset woman has fallen asleep and the other four are showing signs of exhaustion, exactly when the discussion was warming up.
They step outside, and walk to work and agreed to meet again and seriously talk about the future of the country. They meet again, and this time much has happened, and they have been closely following the news from the Arab world. They meet in the same tin shack, and one of them says.
“Perhaps, we should stage an Uprising, with millions of us, and change everything,”
Says the young man, as they are nervously walking towards home, uneasy about who might be watching them, in this police state. The young man adds,
“Lately they have been imprisoning anybody, who is not a member of the party, as a potential enemy who must be detained. They are clearly nervous about the revolutions in North Africa”
Before they entered home, government soldiers came and began rounding up hundreds of Ethiopians. They too were part of that group who are now rotting in jail.
Professor of Philosophy and English (Liberal Arts)
Berklee College of Music