Paradox of the Perfect Stranger
There is a small village called Aberer on the shores of Lake Langano in the Oromia region of Ethiopia. It is about 200 kilometers by road in the south of the capital Addis Ababa. In this village there lived a young couple who loved each other very much, atleast that’s what everyone knew.
The young man’s name was Kefela, a local fisherman. Orphaned at an early age, he had learned to work and depend on the sweat of his brow to survive. He had learned the ways of the world by trial and error. He grew into a man of character and virtue. He was honest, reliable and always kept his word. All the children in the village were his friends and almost all young women, his secret admirers [for it is in wrong in traditional Ethiopian culture, for a woman to publicly show interest in a man].
He had met Nazret (his lover) in the fish market five years earlier. She was this calm, composed and gracefull in her stride. She had a long neck, shapely and tall physique that amplified her confidence. Flawless skin and neatly arranged teeth behind her sunrise smile. She was very beautiful.
Kefela had known many beautiful women but Nazret beat them all. A ‘bird’ had told him that she (Nazret) had been from a violent relationship. The culprit, a man from the neighbouring village of Geret. Kefela worked hard to win her heart and they became lovers. Their love was like no other. They basked in each other’s company. Kefela made her laugh and she cared for him like a child. Everyone in the village acknowledged that this love had been made in heaven. They used to go everywhere and do everything together. When they had be spend time apart, each would suffer a serious heartache and often become physically weak. They felt like they would die without each other. Atleast this was the situation according to Kefela.
You see the Langano happens to be the only fresh water lake in Ethiopia that is free of Bilharzia or Schistosomiasis. This makes it a very popular destination for tourists. People come from all over the world to see it’s magnificence and wallow in its splendour.
One day as Nazret was going to the market she was greeted by this white man who introduced himself as Rob. From her limited command of english she understood that he was asking her out on a date at the expensive italian restaurant by the lake. Rob told her he found her beautiful and that he wanted to marry and take her with him to his country in Europe. A simple request, yet it troubled Nazret for many days. Not because she was interested in what Rob had to offer but the fact that he came off as different and curiously interesting.
In the days that followed Nazret met him several times. She was intrigued by the tales of his visits to distant lands [She had wanted to travel and see the world at some point in her life]. The way he treated her was also different. It was delicate and caring. He opened doors for her. He would serve her and ask her every now and then how she was doing. It was something she had never experienced before.
Back at home, Kefela had noticed a change in her behavior. He missed spending time with her and couldn’t understand why everything had changed suddenly. He wanted to raise the issue but was afraid that he would look insecure. They used to talk and laugh late into the night but of late Nazret was always ‘tired’. He started blaming this twist of events on himself. Could it be that he was working too hard that Nazret had started feeling neglected? Or had she grown tired of his promises that one day he would take them out of poverty? He had been saving up for a year to take her to Addis for a picnic. Had she grown tired of waiting? Then it hit him hard. Maybe Nazret was seeing another man! His stomach twisted into painful knots.
He was almost sure his fears were about to be confirmed. The way she was behaving lately was abnormal. They used to make love every night but now it had gone down to once a week. She was ever ‘tired’. He decided to wait it out a while for Nazret to reel back from her trance. After a week he decided to confront her.
Meanwhile, Rob and his newfound ‘friend’ were enjoying each other’s company. They had too much to talk about on almost every subject. Every now and then, Nazret couldn’t resist feeling guilty for not being there for Kefela, but she couldn’t help it. One day in the middle of a joke, Rob leaned and kissed her. She tried resisting but gave in a few seconds later. It was the most sensual thing she had ever experienced. Not that she didn’t like how Kefela kissed but this was a kiss from a person who was experienced. One would welcome a change of diet every once in a while.
That night when she got home, she found Kefela waiting in the dark. On asked where she had been all day, she replied rather rudely that she wasn’t a child and that she was safe where ever she was. Kefela was deeply hurt and decided not to pursue the matter further. A week later, he got home and found her gone.
Kefela still wakes up early to fish.He has his own boat now and business is looking great. He bought a piece of land along the lake shore and is planning to put up a lodge when he saves up enough money. Life is great. He also has a new bride whom he married from the hill country of Selah Dingay. The love they share is magical. Last month he took her for a picnic in Addis, this December he is planning to take her to the Maasai Mara in Kenya.
How about Nazret? Well, Rob didn’t take her to europe as he had promised. He left her stranded in Addis Ababa after he excused himself to make a ‘phone call’. She was pregnant with his child at the time. She has not seen him (Rob) since. Yesterday she got her first pay of 10 birr. The man she serviced made her do things which made her sick to her stomach. Times are hard. With a young child at home, who can blame her?
The grass will forever be green on the other side of the fence. A bird in hand will always be worth much more than the beckoning commotion in the bush. Are we content with what we have? Did you at some point wish you were born in your rich neighbor’s family? Do you wish you were lighter in complexion than you really are? What brats of a generation we are! But again, life is meant to be lived right?
So today as you call your man, ask yourself if you’re with him in the meantime as you wait for the perfect stranger. Ask yourself why you keep stringing this innocent girl along with the plan to hit on her best friend.
Have you met the perfect stranger yet?
I thank Mr. Yonas whom I met in the airport as we waited to board the flight to Ethiopia last December. A complete stranger, he told me that the most romantic place in the world that I could take my woman happens to be Lake Langano. I appreciate how you were patient enough to explain to me in detail the culture of the beautiful people of Ethiopia.
In the same breath I would like to dedicate this article to my dear fellow writer Carol. You wanted to hear my thoughts on this issue so there you have it.
stranger |ˈstrānjər| |ˈstreɪndʒər| |ˈstreɪn(d)ʒə|noun a person whom one does not know or with whom one is not familiar.