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Rukhub’s Wrong Home
PostPosted: Tue Nov 09, 2010 3:28 am Reply with quote
malasay
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Joined: 17 Oct 2004
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Rukhub’s Wrong Home
By Amir Baharun


“Man is fond of counting his troubles, but he does not count his joys. If he counted them up as he ought to, he would see that every lot has enough happiness provided for it.”
Fyodor Dostoevsky

The following is a work of fiction; any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental!!!

It was a warm sunny day in southern December. Sweating Rukhub wondered if the people from his adoptive province, Quebec, had the same luck as Ethiopians. He learned from the internet about the severe cold weather and the temperature that dropped below freezing. He imagined himself in Canada sitting outside in the middle of December. The young people, sitting at a front table on the patio were talking loud enough to be heard by the people around them. Rukhub had been a young man like them, more than thirty years ago, before he left Ethiopia. Since then, he returned only once and that was for his mother’s funeral. He wanted to join the young men for chitchat, and then he changed his mind. Rukhub wanted to remain incognito, so he wouldn’t attract attention from robbers and pickpockets. He wore a brown t-shirt and faded old-looking blue jeans with darkened white sneakers. He covered his bald head with a Montreal Canadiens hat. When the waitress came over to take his order, he said nothing except a few words. He behaved courteously to a peddler with toilette rolls.

When he looked at the young men sitting at the front table, he recognised one of them from his flight from Amsterdam to Addis Ababa. He was talking about his life in Europe. He was telling his friends about girls in discotheques, night clubs and topless bars. Rukhub too had those kinds of stories years earlier, but he had never shared with others. Suddenly the warm spring wind brought whirling dust with dry leaves, plastic bags and trash papers into spirals across the street. After paying his bill with generous tips he left unfinished plate on the table and went up to his hotel room. It was his second contact with Ethiopia and Ethiopians after a long absence.

When he settled in Montreal, he had been active in a small Ethiopian community. It was the time he had a rocky life style. Later, when he graduated from university with a graduate degree, he ceased his activities. He had a smooth crossing from lower to middle class Canadian immigrant life. At that time, he was courting a young Haitian mulatto girl at the French Caribbean night club. They stayed till three in the morning and danced on their way home singing the song called Syé bwa, sung by Kasasv group.

His girl friend was ten years younger than he was and worked at Couch-Tard convenience store chain as a manager. He loved her, not only she was physically beautiful, because they also shared the same prejudicial history of slave ancestry. A few years after they got married, they went to Port-au-Prince for three months to work as volunteers. They stayed in the slum of Cité Soliel. Rukhub familiarised himself with Haitian politics, language, history and its people. He learned about Francois “Papa Doc” Duvalier’s ruthless regime, his private militia called Tonton Macout, his son “Bébé Doc” and others. He loved the people of Haiti.
They both wanted to have children, but after endless testing her infertility was confirmed. Her infertility did not bother Rukhub. Years later, she decided to end their marriage without his will. They sold their house and all they had in common and decided split in two. He got the cat and she kept the dog. For Rukhub, it was painful, as she was the only woman he had ever loved. He became lonely and lost. When his life became rocky again with a fruitless and failed marriage, he decided to go back home – Harar. He was in his mid-sixties, freshly retired. He had always imagined returning to his home country and resettle with his wife and children. It had been his best dream to relive his childhood life again.

In Addis he stayed in a hotel, because he had no relatives there. He wondered if the people in Harar would remember him. But he knew that he made the decision. The next morning he went to a private bank whose name was unknown to him. The way he dressed was a little casual and the security guard asked him why he was there. He ignored the security guard’s question as he passed through the revolving doors. It was not the guard’s question that was inappropriate, but it was because Rukhub spoke broken Amharic as he constantly mixed-up words with English, French and Creole.

“How may I help you?” asked a young man, with a sleeveless light blue shirt and tie, without a smile.

“Oh, I need some money,” Rukhub said, giving his credit card to make a cash withdrawal. He looked at the nametag pinned to the teller’s chest that read Ashebir. His name meant “terrorize” in Amharic.

“Thanks, sir,” said the teller, when he saw the credit card, becoming friendlier.

“I guess, your name seems to be at odd with you, I mean you look like a decent human being,” Rukhub said, as he put the cash and the credit card in his wallet. He withdrew five thousand birr assuming it would be enough for at least three months.

II

In late afternoon the next day, he arrived in Harar by a coach bus, but unlike Addis Ababa, Harar had little changed. A three-wheeled scooter cab driver, who addressed him as uncle, asked him, “where is your destination?”

“Any hotel with a reasonable price,” exhausted Rukhub said.

“I know a good place,” the cabby said. “It is only one hundred birr.”

“Is it one hundred birr per week?”

“No, per night. But you’ll be treated like a king, with bed and breakfast.”

“Is it a motel?” Rukhub asked.

“Yes, I mean, you’ll see,” the cabby said.

The cabby drove fast on paved road, sharing the road with pedestrians, and then he slowed and turned in to unpaved narrow lane. After a bumpy ride the cabby stopped his car by the roadside. It was a motel without sign – a single room with old narrow wrought iron bed, without a bed side table. On the wall, there was a portrait of Haile Selassie in a military uniform with pith helmet. The washroom was outdoor, recently dug toilet hole, and without toilet rolls or running water. The owner of the corrugated roof lodging was a former army officer – a veteran of many internal wars. He welcomed Rukhub with a traditional Amhara bow and a firm handshake. He wore well pressed old khaki military uniform with well polished shoes.

“My name is Ashenafi,” said the man.

“I’ll call you Victor,” said Rukhub, with fatigued smile, wondering who would be a vanquished.

The room had smell of home brewed alcohol, roasted coffee beans, kerosene lamp and lentil stews. The smell of a kerosene lamp awakened the part of himself that had forgotten, the time when Rukhub was sharing a small room with his mother. He went back in his mind to the dark nights he spent with his mother and the smell brought back his past, the past that had never left him.

The lodging owner, who was a second generation Amhara settler, wanted to know more about Rukhub. Before they engaged in conversation, Rukhub asked the man to remove the portrait of Haile Selassie from the wall.

“It is a personal taste,” Rukhub said, “I don’t like the absolute monarchs.”

The surprised man removed unwillingly to satisfy his customer. Then he came back with a wooden stool and a bottle of home brewed alcohol. Rukhub refused to drink, but allowed him to stay with him. The man drew out a pack of unfiltered cheap local cigarette from his pocket and lit up one. He started smoking and sipping his liquor. He looked at the door, as if he were waiting for someone, but it was a reprieve.

“Oh,” Rukhub said, sitting on the edge of the creaking bed, “I almost forgot to pay you.”

“No worries,” the man said, sipping again from the bottle, “be my guest.”

Rukhub handed him the money. Then the man started to talk about the national and local politics. He used rather derogatory words to call the ethnic groups and their political parties. He treated them as narrow-minded, as if he were a broad-minded person.

“I’m Amhara from Menz,” he said chauvinistically, “do you know what Menz is?”

Rukhub shook his head negatively.

“It is an authentic Amhara region. I’m not changing my identity to please the riffraff from power. The man on the portrait, who you asked me to remove, made this country united, proud and strong. He used every power to keep this nation united. He used soft and hard power. He used his iron fist, when it was needed. That is what this nation needs. But he was betrayed by his own people. Since late nineteen-seventies, I participated from small skirmishes to big wars. I fought hard against the Somali invaders, Eritrean Sha-abiya secessionists, Agame, and Galla narrow nationalists. What I’d gotten for that was to be fired when the Agames took power. When again Sha-abiya rulers tried to invade our land, the government that fired me made a call. And I answered for a call of duty – not to cede a piece of sand from my land.”

A woman in her late fifties interrupted him saying he got a phone call from his friend. He told her to tell the caller that he is busy.

“Where was I?” the man asked, looking at Rukhub. “Aha, as I said, Ethiopia without Amharas at the helm of the power is a car without an engine. We, Amharas, can make it or break it. Agames, Gallas, Aderres, nomad Somalis can’t do anything without us. When my father settled here, in this city, he had nothing. He started his life from scratch. He was a tax collector. The locals feared and revered him, just as they feared and revered the emperor. They gave him presents. When he built this house, everything came from the locals, literally everything. He was like their master. But I didn’t follow my father’s footstep. I joined the army. I was sixteen, I guess. I was proud to be in the army. Do you remember the third division? The famous third division! I was in the mechanised unit. We were terrorizing those Somali nomads in the Ogaden region. You see, the irony is, they’ve got a right for self-rule, but still not satisfied.”
Rukhub listened silently, wordlessly. He observed the drunken man as his speech slurred.

“What do you think about this poor land?”

“I’d rather not talk about it now,” Rukhub answered, “I’d a long day.”

“How long will you be staying?”

“For a few months. I’m tired; maybe we’ll have to talk tomorrow.”

III

When the man left, Rukhub spent his night like a tramp without closing his eyes for a single minute. The fleas and lice turned out en masse, as if they were welcoming a rock star or celebrity or a client they missed. They sucked his blood mercilessly. He left in the wee hours of the morning cursing the cabby and the owner of the lodging. When he grabbed his backpack, he had no time even to button his shirt or tie laces of his shoes or zip his pants. He walked down the street by himself; until he saw a man peeing against the wall, where he joined him to empty his bladder. Then he found himself among unmarked and unknown streets, unsure of which way to turn.

“You can walk in ten minutes, go straight and you’d take a left there,” said a passer-by, when Rukhub asked him directions to city centre. As the passer-by said, after five minutes walk he saw a statue of a man on horse back. Then he knew his direction and walked down the street to the city centre.

Red-eyed and irritable from lack of sleep, Rukhub sat alone in a city centre coffee-shop. He ordered a strong black coffee. While having his breakfast he met a young man, Bakri. Rukhub had a friendly conversation with him. Bakri, an amateur humorist, told him many humorous anecdotes about Harari émigrés from North America, Europe and Australasia. He was an unemployed college graduate.

“Canada is a good place to live,” Bakri said, after listening Rukhub’s story, “why are you here?”

“Harar is my home. I feel it is my duty to comeback.”

“Maybe it is your wrong home,” Bakri said, “if I were you…”

“You’re not, and it is not my wrong home,” Rukhub retorted, interrupting Bakri. “One day, everybody has to return into his proper place.”

“I guess the proper place is a graveyard.”

“No it is not,” said Rukhub, with anger.

“I’m sorry; I didn’t mean to hurt your feelings.”

“If you could do me a favour, do you know a decent hotel with a reasonable price?” Rukhub asked, while he was crushing with his two fingers a louse crawling behind his right ear.

He checked in a hotel close to the city centre. Before he paid, he checked the bed in case the uninvited guests were there. Then he took a quick shower in a city where water became scarce. When Bakri told him the uninvited guests came out only during the night, he frowned disapprovingly.

“Fleas and lice are like my insect pets,” Bakri said. “They never leave me alone. If I comb my hair tens of them would fall down. Poor things! They never hurt me.”

“Talk about something interesting,” Rukhub said. “You’re an adult not a daydreaming child.”

“Are you from Harar or its environs?” Bakri asked, as Rukhub spoke Harari language with a kind of a funny accent and had a darker complexion.

“I’m inside Harar proper, but my relatives have either moved or passed away years ago.”

“What about your distant relatives?”

“I’ve no idea about them.”

Rukhub had never had contact with his paternal relatives. His mother had slave blood and her in-laws never liked her. As his mother was beautiful, his father broke the invisible artificial barrier to have her as his wife. Rukhub was the only surviving child.

“Do you want to visit someone?” Bakri asked, bored with doing nothing at the coffee shop.

“I’m not sure if she is alive or not; do you know a certain old woman called Makia Rukhub? She would probably be in her eighties. Her father was a well known teacher and that is why my father gave me her father’s first name.”

“Oh yes, she is alive and well,” Bakri answered, “she lives in my neighbourhood.”

After lunch, Rukhub visited the old woman. When he arrived, she had just made, with the help of her maid, pillows like a chair putting under and besides and ensconced herself. Her hookah was ready.

“I don’t have a young girl who comes of age,” old Makia said, with a smile that showed her denture, when she saw them. She was heaving sighs between each word. Rukhub wondered why she was smoking, as she was old and frail.

“I’m Rukhub. I came to visit you.”

“Rukhub, who?”

“Your former neighbour, Omar’s son.”

“Is that true?” she said, beating her chest with her right hand, while adjusting her head scarf with her left hand. He kissed her right hand and sat down to talk with her. “Are you here for good or just for a short visit?”

“I’m here for good.”

“It is a good decision, son. Now, you’ve got to claim your father’s properties. Where are your wife and children?”

“I’m childless,” Rukhub said mournfully, as his eyes met hers.

“It is okay. Now you can try with a young virgin girl. After all these years, you don’t look so different,” she said, looking at his wrinkled face.

A young maid came with grounded chat, an addictive green leaves and water gourd. She put them close to the old woman.

“I would like to have some too, if you have a fresh one,” Bakri said, smiling broadly that showed his discoloured teeth.

“Don’t bother our host,” Rukhub said, disapprovingly.

“No, it is okay. Bring some for them too,” ordered Makia and gave money to the maid. After a few minutes the maid reappeared with a plastic bag full of leaves, a tray with three cups and a thermos.

Makia told him that she lives off her youngest son’s inherited fortune from America. At the end of the day, when she asked Rukhub to stay for diner, he declined. Then picking up her cell phone, she called her son, Sheikh Osman, who was giving religious sermons every evening at his home. Rukhub was invited after their conversation. When he arrived, Sheikh Osman’s house was packed with young and not so young as well as females and males. He was telling them about God. Rukhub sat and listened.

“God,” said Sheikh Osman, with emotion, “cannot be defined by length, width, depth or any other form. He does not have a particular place or location…”

The last sentence captured Rukhub’s attention. Once he had read on a large roadside billboard while travelling around the United States: “If you would like to call God, dial 1800-123-4God.” He decided to tell the preacher when he finished his sermon.

At precisely nine o’clock, the clock at Sheikh Osman’s house struck three times. Everybody prepared to go to the nearby mosque. Rukhub almost forgot how to perform ablution and say his prayers. He was detached from Islam. Sheikh Osman’s front yard was bright with the full moon, and the blue sky of Harar was covered with stars. It was a relief for Rukhub as he stood and stretched his numb muscles after sitting cross-legged for almost two hours. He did not like to hear about God. It reminded him of life after death. He stood pensive, serious, and melancholic, as if he were chewing the green leaves with Bakri and the old woman. He left home thin, tall and hairy, and returned home aged, fat, bald and almost useless. He wished he hadn’t come. He knew already that he wouldn’t want anything, anyway, from Harar. It is not an old man’s enjoyable place. Almost all of his friends and acquaintances were away or dead. After the prayer, Rukhub left the mosque with Bakri.

“Have you enjoyed your prayer?” Bakri asked, aimlessly.

“I’m not sure.”

“I guess you forgot saying your prayers.”

“I forgot everything, not only saying prayers.”

“Haven’t you practiced Islam over there?”

“Never! Marie-Claire, I mean my ex-wife, practiced Christianity mixed with vodou,” Rukhub said, with a half smile. He was sure the young man had never heard of vodou.

“I hope you’re still a Muslim.”

“Oh yeah,” said uncertain Rukhub, not to discourage the young believer.
Looking at him searchingly, Bakri seemed unconvinced. Rukhub had lost almost everything that connected him to his homeland. When they arrived at the hotel, Rukhub gave Bakri one hundred birr and asked him to return the next morning. Bakri refused to accept.

“Now, you’re the only relative I’ve in this city,” Rukhub said to Bakri.

“Maybe you’re the son I never had.”

“Thanks. I like to have an unclaimed dad and relative,” Bakri said. As usual, after chewing the fresh green leaves he became pensive and refused again to accept the money. Rukhub inserted the money into the breast pocket of Bakri’s shirt.

IV

The next morning, around eight, Bakri came to pick him at his hotel. After breakfast Rukhub visited his grade school. It was the morning break. He found Harar’s narrow alley ways, just wide enough for two well-fed oxen, cobblestoned, cleaner and odourless. Its market square crowded. At school, children were playing and some of them drinking water out of tin cans collected from the gutters. It reminded him of his childhood, drinking water from smelly tin cans. The smell he remembered turned his stomach. When the break was over, a man who gave his name as Tesfayé, introduced the other man as Beqelé, the principal. The principal invited Rukhub to his office and had a friendly chat. Then he visited the house where he was born, but it was occupied by a young couple of none Hararis.

“In this neighbourhood I knew a shop-owner, who was walking alone talking to himself, I forgot his name.”

“I’ve no idea where he is now. Maybe living overseas with his children and collecting government handout,” Bakri said, with humour.

After lunch Bakri invited Rukhub to have bercha, green leaves chewing ceremony, with his friends. They bought two plastic bags of fresh leaves that cost Rukhub his one day budget.

“How do the people afford to buy these useless green leaves? It is almost a fortune for the ordinary people.”

“Once you are addicted, there is a way to have it everyday, or you will share the leftovers with goats,” Bakri answered.

Bakri’s friends were not all unemployed. They worked in the public or private sector, and were all college graduates, speaking English fluently. Inside the crowded room, everyone but Rukhub chewed the fresh leaves like starved goats, and smoked hookah. Within a few minutes all of them had swollen left or right cheeks as if they had toothache. They talked mouthful of green leaves.

“Are you from Toronto?” one of a younger roué, who wore a burgundy turtleneck sweater, asked. The turtleneck sweater was not really for a room with many people, as almost all of them were sitting with their undershirts.

“No, from Montreal,” Rukhub answered.

“Bonjour, comment allez-vous?”

“Très bien, merci. Et vous?”

“Thanks,” the young man said, “that was the only French sentence I know.”

“What a noise! Last night,” an emaciated young man with rotten teeth said, as he gulped down chewed green leaves with a glassful of water.
Rukhub also asked them about the loud noise he had been hearing the previous night. They told him, it was from the nearby church where the priests were saying their prayers.

“What a nut! They’ve to stop it during the night. It is time to sleep and take a rest.”

“It is democracy, Brother Rukhub. It is their right,” one of the young men said, “freedom of worship. It is also a contest between Orthodox Christians and Evangelical fundamentalists.”

“What you’ve to know is,” Rukhub said to the young man, “in democracy where my rights begin their rights end and vice versa. It is a noise pollution. Have you ever heard of it?”

“No,” they answered, in a united voice.

“Then, we’ve to collect a petition,” Rukhub said. The young men looked at each other, as if he were talking about a science fiction, and they changed the topic to politics, talking about the election. The house divided into two groups – one group supporting the ruling party and the other supporting the opposition. When their debate started to heat up, Rukhub who had been quiet said, “Politics is not a science, it is an art; above all it is about power. It needs concession, compromise, backdoor dealing…”
None of them gave a damn for what he said. They looked at each other again and they changed the topic.

“Where do you stay?” asked one of the young men, who sat next to him.

“A hotel,” Rukhub answered.

“If you’ve a plan to stay for a month or more, I know a good place for you,” another young man said.

“Give me the address,” said Bakri, hurriedly.

“It is my grandmother’s furnished house.”

“It is interesting, what do you think?” Bakri asked looking at Rukhub.

On their way to visit the house, “why were your friends changing the
topic whenever I opened my mouth to comment?” asked irritated Rukhub.

“We’re tired of getting lessons from those who come from abroad. Their attitude is disgusting. They come with foreign passports and behave like if they were some sort of special breeds. They think they know all and bloated with self-importance.”

They visited the house. There was no furnishing except grass mats, old pots and pans. Rukhub agreed to take it for at least three months. It was a long way from his Montreal bungalow; leaving his modern comfort to a medieval house. When Bakri asked him about the physical discomfort of the traditional Harari house, Rukhub answered, “I had known poverty and hardship in my early youth. It is what I had been accustomed to.”

He bought two cotton mattresses, four pillows, sheets, blankets, a local rug, kerosene lamp and flashlight. The first evening was boring, because there was no TV or computer or light. He had nothing for entertainment. At night, he had slept for only a couple of hours as the mosquitoes were whining close in his ears, as if they were asking him: “What the hell are you doing here?”

The next day, he bought a repellent and hired a maid for cooking and cleaning; he invited Bakri to live with him. They became close friends. Rukhub woke up early everyday and walked for about thirty minutes. After breakfast, he went to an internet café for reading news and checking his emails. He spent the rest of the day with Bakri.

One evening, Bakri opened out after a few drinks. He was the eldest child and having five siblings. His father worked as a store keeper until he joined a neighbourhood shrine leaving his children to their fate. His mother worked in Saudi Arabia as a maid.

“Does she have a work permit?” Rukhub asked.

“No, she works as an illegal alien,” Bakri said, “and they deported her twice. She used to send us a thousand birr per month, but for the last five months we received nothing. She told me that she lost her job and was looking for another one. What troubles me is that I had no news from her for the last six weeks. I borrowed from a friend three thousand birr, but I don’t know how to pay it. It is hard to survive. Here, to find a job, you’ve got to know someone or have to be related to someone. I feel a little bit outsider.”

Rukhub, who knew to be an outsider, paid Bakri’s debt.

V

While he was walking at the market place, Rukhub heard somebody calling his name. When he looked around him in the busy market place, he saw a woman sitting amidst vegetables and spices.

“Do you remember me?” the woman asked, rather nervously, as though somewhat embarrassed.

“Oh, you know,” Rukhub said, “after years…”

“I was your elementary and high school classmate.”

“Aha, now I remember.”

“Then what is my name?”

“Nuria,” he said, echoing one of her customers’ voices. He did not like to embarrass the poor woman.

“I know where you live, I’ll pay you a visit one of these days,” she said, as the customers buzzed around her. When he left her, he suddenly got her image as a young girl. She was a brilliant student and he did not expect her sitting in the market selling vegetables and spices. The same evening, she came with a beautiful young girl. He ordered the maid to prepare tea for them. After exchanging greetings and talking about warm weather, their conversation lapsed into silence.

“Where is your husband?” Rukhub asked, breaking the silence.

“He passed away about eleven years ago. He was an engineer, graduate of Leipzig University and had a good job. But he left me with five children. This girl is my eldest and eighteen.”

Rukhub looked at the girl with a particular feeling. The girl had a fair skin, round face with puffy cheeks and beautiful smile that aroused a desire of marriage in him. After a week Rukhub asked Nuria for her daughter’s hand. She promised him to give the matter some thought. After a few days she agreed to his proposal, but her daughter was hesitant. Bakri opposed vehemently.

“The people would call you an old pervert. You look as old as her dad and she is too young to be your wife,” Bakri protested.

“I’ll never get old and I really don’t care about what the people say. I really liked her and she will be my wife.”

“But you’re too old. Maybe you can satisfy her financially, but not emotionally,” Bakri teased him in a playful way.

“I can satisfy her emotionally too. I’m still virile,” Rukhub said, showing his clenched fist with smile. “I can satisfy not only one, but four young girls of her age. My ex-wife was much younger than I was, and I look much younger than my age too.”

Rukhub hadn’t had these types of fantasm for a long time

“She’ll say, ‘you’re not cool dude’. I mean the way you dress, talk and behave,” Bakri said, in a humoristic way.

“Don’t you think I’m good enough for her?”

Rukhub had felt elated and changed his style. It was like beginning his adult life all over again. He dressed baggy pants, wore afro wig and tried to talk like younger men. Like good old days, he bought sandals out of old car tire. He even started to chew green leaves and smoke hookah. A month later he decided to make a shopping trip and visit his old university buddy from the Emirate. He went to Dubai where his former classmate had established his business. The Emirati welcomed him as a good missed friend. After a week he came back, bringing much stuff for his fiancée. He also brought shirts, pants, underwear, pyjamas, a laptop and a cell phone for Bakri.

“It is my early Eid,” Bakri said excitedly, when he got the goodies.

“It is the beginning,” Rukhub said. “Do you like to work in Emirate and support your family?”

“Do I like? Of course, yes.”

“When I asked my friend to hire you, he was positive. You’ll receive all necessary papers soon. Before you leave for Emirate, I’ll have a wedding party and you’ll be the best man at my wedding.”

The wedding day, the bride disappeared leaving a note behind her. The news was a shock for Rukhub. Neighbours and the whole town talked about it. His story became a preferred topic of conversation.

“I told you to have an older woman as a wife, not a worthless young girl,” saddened Bakri said. “She is very young. You never would have been happy together.”

“I wanted to have a child, a healthy one. As an old man with an older woman, I might have gotten a child affected with Down’s Syndrome. Do you understand?” Rukhub said, in a very depressed tone. “Anyway, I’ve no luck with women.”

But Rukhub never had a private meeting with her – tête-à-tête or bouche-à-bouche, as he repeatedly said in French.

“What do you plan, if that is not indiscreet?” serious looking Bakri said.

“My plan is to leave this city, to let the talk about me die down,” Rukhub answered opening his hands in a sign of powerlessness. In small old town, nobody can have secrets; the reason is everyone knows everything about everyone else.

“To where?”

“To la Belle Province.”

The money and the time Rukhub had invested for his happiness has gone without any return. And as his couch bus faced toward the north for Addis, he pulled Ngugi Wa Thiong’o’s latest book from his backpack and he read a few pages. Then he put the book on his lap. After a moment of day dreaming, he pulled another book: Moliere’s English translation, Sganarelle, or the self-deceived Husband.

The day Rukhub left Harar, some of his neighbours said, he spent years abroad and only came back for his retirement. And some others said he was an old sage, something Harar could never produce. No one shed tears, except Bakri. Bakri was as sorry for him as anybody could be, as they had been together everyday since Rukhub’s arrival. The story itself looked like unfinished novel… and so Rukhub’s adventure ends.

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