Date:          Tuesday, June 22, 1999 (6:27 a.m. EST)
    "A Glass of Cold Water, for His Majesty."

Geta Gelawdios,

I've never been so soundly yet gently reproached, at the mercy at once of Biblical references and scripted personalities. Please accept my humble apologies for both my carnivorous tendencies and my insensitivity regarding unique lo-cal offerings. My only consolation is that, in so hastily embracing these bad tendencies of mine, I'm obviously in excellent company.

{INTERRUPTION: the commercial-break vibe you felt was surely pulsing the message "Ereg! bemotkut!" which in cyber-Tidfya may have sounded like "Ere beQah, chiko menchaka".}

In their intolerant burning of demonic ideas captured on film, our wegenoch may have missed the point in the past, and are missing it still: killing the medium does nothing more than render the message that much more intriguing. Why not take it a step further and kill the film-maker? S/he who delivers the message to our supposedly untainted souls is surely at least as much to blame. But why stop there? -- there is the author whose thoughts infest the script, the muse who inspires and/or leads the author into temptation, the parent who bears the muse? No end in sight, no end in sight……

I say let the seiTan-bet be, and work instead on the viewers' consciousness -- their ability to say gosh! or kiff! to the ideas they are fed. Let any evil messages deemed unworthy die where they must: languishing rejected and powerless at the feet of the enlightened.

I wish I could take credit for the amaringlish spelling -- alas, it is neither unique nor mine. At some point, someone (also in cyber-werei) had put forward the idea of taking all the sounds that the Western tongue cannot wrap around (the Q and T in QwanTa, the CH in CHinQet, etc.) and capitalizing them. I liked the idea and now use it -- the rest of my spelling basically applies the rules of phonics such as I learned them as a kid. (Ok, maybe liistiro is my own creation, but it felt right.)

So to come to the star-crossed lovers, Shiberu and Woderyelesh, and their beleaguered parents, Dr. Beliyu and Ato Andargachew…(Ere ante! I just remembered how you stuck me with the bill for dinner at Debre Tabor that evening? Chivalry is indeed dead. I did appreciate, though, your including yeshimbira-assa, my all-time favorite yetsom-migib, on the menu.) Interestingly and not surprisingly, I remember the dinner totally differently.

Contrary to your account, Ato Andargachew and Doctor Beliyu had immediately recognized a kindred soul in each other. They both knew that any effort on their part to directly influence their children's quests for identity would be summarily rejected. But they could not stay out of the most important juncture in their children's lives.

Ato Andargachew (Gash'Andarge le zemed azmad) feared that Woderyelesh, in her efforts to shed all vestiges of her noble yet modest beginnings, would end up at the mercy of the wolves that awaited her in the Big City. She would feel ever incomplete if she didn't experience all that the other world had to offer, but how could he help her stay focused on her goal to complete her studies without putting her beyond his reach, his protection?

Shiberu, a petulant post-adolescent able to sulk in four languages, needed to be shaken from his absurd belief that he was the most forsaken of all beings, misunderstood, abused -- unable to live one more second without his Internet access. Dr. Beliyu was at the end of her rope -- when would he wake up to the realities of the world?

So the two wise adults saw the perfect opportunity to achieve their ends, and wordlessly put into place the following strategy:

Feign disagreement and hostility in an appropriately public place


Elicit the perfectly predictable adolescent response of doing exactly the opposite


Ensure both other-world exposure for the lovely Woderyelesh, and face-time at home for the errant Shiberu, now suddenly keenly interested in seeking higher learning. The latter would finally learn how to take care of himself and perhaps even of his beloved; the former would have a career veteran to help her navigate the minefields of foreign life (be it Addis or Geneva). And they are star-crossed no more. Not bad for an evening's work.

{By the way, do you think my special aTefaris brownies helped somewhat? But let that remain between us and speak of it no more…}

So we come to two bridges, one that bypasses the noxious fumes of the river of hatred, bitterness and all things vile that you so eloquently describe, and another that traverses the halfway point of this absurdly complicated exchange between two cyber-debteras (if one accepts a female one). So where do we find these cyber-muTis (if one accepts a male one)?

First, they stumbled around in the 16th century, seeking enlightenment and inheritance, even as their hapless descendents tried to figure out nuro-na bilihatun in the New World.

Then came the top-40 CHiraQ list, with the gold medal going directly to that species apart, the Immigration Officer from Hell.

And now, they're at an intersection: having arrived at the shores of the river of madness, where will they venture? Will they march across at great speed, seeking to end this torturous voyage? Will they saunter along, slowly and with exaggerated steps, postponing as much as possible the inevitable end to the journey? Or will they, cantankerous and opinionated as they are, stand mid-bridge and build two separate exit ramps, each finding her/his own way? The sequel, Master Artist, over to you…

With utmost respect,


p.s. As the great thinker, Ibn Khaldoun, has so wisely written, "she who sits by the sea is often the wisest of the wise, and shall have the last word". Thus, in your lite vegetarian offerings, perhaps I can convince you to think of that critical building block, the protein? As ol' Ibn has been known to say, "Where's the beef, man?"

[May I add in a respectful aside that I am in awe of the spacing trick that enabled you to reach five pages. It must be said -- I learn much from you.]

Date:          Saturday, June 26, 1999 (1:48 a.m. EST)
    "Make That Ice Water, and.... Be Gentle with Me."

Immebet Makeda Hoy,

Madam, I would have accepted your apologies wholeheartedly (regarding Abel vs Cain) had it not been for the rather suspicious aside, tagged almost unnoticed, at the very end of your note. Your concluding almot bay tegaday attitude toward red meat invalidates the apologetic tone expressed in the first few paragraphs of your last letter. I almost believed that you had converted to vegetarianism until I read Ibn Khaldoun's quote. Where is the beef indeed? I shall respond in the following paragraphs.

Madam, chivalry is alive and well in Debre Tabor! However, misunderstandings oftentimes occur between Emperor and subject when one frequently jumps back and forth in time. Need I remind an Empress that it is beneath the dignity of personages such as us to carry moneybags? Old habits do die hard. Generally, my Bejerond always accompanies me when I step out of the palace and takes care of such matters. However, I have lately been deprived of my faithful retinue, as there is only room for one in the time machine's capsule. Please remember that individuals who were raised in nuclear families designed these twentieth century inventions. (Aside: is there no room for those of us with a lot of baggage?)

Please excuse the lapse in my time-warped manners. Will you kindly accept the several mesobs of yeshimbira-assa that I have already sent by a cavalry unit as a small token of my penitence? I have also sent the Debre Tabor tavern owner several feresulas of ye-gomen zer (yes, it is my duty and destiny to encourage the consumption of vegetables).

By the way, did you realize that in your letter you revealed a secret held close to your bosom for millennia? We now know that it was not the spicy food in King Solomon's sumptuous banquet that did the trick! It was your very own aTefaris brownies that gave him the courage to stand outside your bedroom quarters. And he thought he was seducing you…

Madam, I will now tell you about the (marvel)ous visions that I saw after I ate some of your aTefaris brownies. While Shiberu and Woderyelesh were looking into each other's eyes and sighing every other second, while the mock battle between Dr. Beliyu and Ato Andargachew raged, I was in seventh (literally, as you shall see) heaven. (Before I move on… As we are presently in a $$$ oriented age, I highly recommend that you copyright the phrase "petulant post-adolescent able to sulk in four languages." What a brilliant distillation of character!)

I must have eaten a few morsels of your aTefaris when somebody grabbed and pulled my right hand. As you probably know, an affront to my majesty instinctively causes me to grab my gorade (yes, old habits do indeed die hard). I looked up in fury and recognized the Apostle John standing in front of me. (Please don't ask me how I knew. I knew.) My anger quickly turned to fear. Remember that this is the very John who bore witness to the Apocalypse in the Book of Revelation. I looked around in our corner of the tavern. Nobody seemed to be aware of his presence. I decided to resign myself to my fate with dignity. I stood up and took a step toward him. All of a sudden, I found myself standing next to the Apostle John on a paved road at the foothills of the Entoto. I looked up and was struck by what I saw. The upper section of the mountain chain was covered not only with eucalyptus but also with cypress, fir, and pine trees. The white and purple flowers of the numerous magnolias and jacarandas blanketed the lower section of the mountain chain. Madam, it was a sight to behold. I felt the Apostle John's impatience (please don't ask me how...I just did) and quickly followed him as he began the ascent. I ducked in panic (yes, it's completely inappropriate for a person of my rank but I was unprepared) as the Apostle John walked through a sign! He stopped, turned and smiled (Was there a hint of condescension in that saintly smile? I cannot say. I didn't feel it. I just saw it.) I stepped back around the sign and glanced at this unusual sight. On it, I read "Entoto National Park" and the date: 7 Meskerem 2045.

The Apostle John told me that the sign was what was called a hologram, a three-dimensional image that floats in mid air. However, I was much more impressed by the lush and shimmering mountainscape than I was with the holo-sorcery. I don't know if I told you, but Kidus Michael, a tiny chapel carved into the side of one of the Entoto mountains (now--that is 1999--almost in ruins) had provided my family and I temporary refuge when were fleeing from Gragn's army. At that time (that is in the early part of the 16th century), the Entoto mountain chain, apart from the jacaranda and magnolia trees, looked exactly as it does now (that is 2045). Sometime ago (that is late 20th century) I was in utter despair when I saw the denuded mountain chains. I had also heard that $$$$ people were trying to grab the only green that was left around the capital. The Apostle John beckoned but I told him to wait. (Was that advisable?) I knelt and prayed to give thanks to the enlightened populace and leadership that prevented the destruction of this natural and national shrine.

{INTERRUPTION: While I was still kneeling on the ground, I saw a woman by the shores of Lake Hora. She was roasting a bull on a skewer. I guess she'll have all the beef she wants for quite some time.}

After a moment of silence, I stood up and quietly followed the Apostle John up the incline. The welcoming reception by the gregarious flocks of alpine birds soothed my nerves. After all, I was climbing a mountain to an unknown destination with the chronicler of the Apocalypse. When we reached the top, I became euphoric (I still don't know if it was the vision or your aTefaris that caused that rapturous tremor within.).

About half a mile away, down in the crater, were thousands of Ethiopians surrounded by a dense and luxuriant carpet of meskel flowers in full bloom. In the center of the crater sat a woman who looked vaguely familiar .(Please don't ask me how I could distinguish her appearance from the distance that separated us. I just did.) Twenty-four elderly men and women encircled her. Then, the voices of the multitude quieted down as all eyes turned toward us.

Not one eye among the thousands blinked. In the silence, all I could hear was the sound of my own breathing. I followed the Apostle John as he advanced toward the center. His robe brushed against the meskel flowers as the sound rebounded in the crater.

The vaguely familiar woman and the twenty-four elderly men and women all stood up as we entered the ring of the elderly. I recognized Shiberu and Woderyelesh among the elderly group. Noticing the flitter of recognition in their eyes, I smiled and bowed as I walked past them. I knew then that the woman at the center of the circle was their daughter (by now, you know not to ask how I know these things). Shiberu and Woderyelesh's daughter bowed and kissed the ring on the Apostle John's right hand. I overheard him whisper her name: Selamawit. His whisper echoed and reechoed for seven minutes.

After the echoes had tapered off, the Apostle John untied a worn leather pouch tied around his waist. He then took out seven sealed digital disks and gave them to Selamawit. Suddenly, all the women in the crater ululated as a large group of musicians, wearing clothes representing all the regions of our country, descended from the top of the crater blowing their embiltas. Once they reached the bottom of the crater, the musicians circled the ring of the elderly seven times and then dispersed into the crowd as we all wept with joy.

And I saw a LiQemeKwas proclaiming with a loud voice, "Who is worthy to break the seals of the digital disks?" A boy and a girl of about six years of age, wearing necklaces of wildflowers, emerged from the crowd and walked toward Selamawit as the crowd clapped and ululated. The boy and the girl stopped in front of Selamawit and bowed. She kissed both of them on the cheeks as seven technicians set up the hologram player. Then, Selamawit took out the first sealed digital disk from the pouch and raised it up in the air. All eyes in the crater followed Selamawit's hand. Then, she gave the first sealed digital disk to the boy and the girl. They broke the seal and took out the digital disk. A lullaby of wind chimes resounded in the crater. Then the boy and the girl inserted the first digital disk into the hologram player. We all looked up as a giant image flickered into life above our heads.

And I saw, and beheld a white horse and he who was seated on him had a wreath of  olive branches as a crown. He released a flock of white doves and went forth declaring peace over the entire country and region.

And when the boy and girl had opened the second seal and inserted the second digital disk in the hologram player I saw and beheld a red horse. And she who was seated on it was given power to banish murderers and torturers from the realm.

And when the boy and girl had opened the third seal and inserted the third digital disk in the hologram player I saw and beheld a black horse, and he who was seated on it had a pair of balances in his hand. He galloped ahead advocating justice in the land.

And when the boy and girl had opened the fourth seal and inserted the fourth digital disk in the hologram player I saw and beheld a pale horse and she who sat on him was Life. And power was given to her to eliminate hunger, disease and despair in the republic.

And when the boy and girl had opened the fifth seal and inserted the fifth digital disk in the hologram player I saw and beheld the souls of them who were slain for the testimony which they held. And they cried out, saying, "We forgive those who tortured and murdered us in order for us all to purge the venom from our hearts."

And when the boy and girl had opened the sixth seal and inserted the sixth digital disk in the hologram player I saw and beheld the hitherto denuded mountains and plains of the Empire re-covered with trees and re-populated with wild animals.

And when the boy and girl had opened the seventh seal and inserted the seventh digital disk in the hologram there was silence for about the space of half an hour. And I heard the seven percussionists that stood next to Selamawit striking their negarits. The slow tempo raps of the negarits began to crescendo as images of those that had divided the country by race, class, gender, religion, nationality and doctrine flickered in slow succession. All of us wept, embraced one another, and cried in unison, "Never again!"

At that exact moment, I found myself once again seated in the Debre Tabor tavern. Perplexed, I asked the Apostle John-as he was fading fast-if he wasn't the one who had witnessed and written about the Apocalypse in the Book of Revelations. He nodded. I then asked about the discrepancy between what he had written and what I had just witnessed. He smiled-I could not understand the meaning of that saintly expression-and vanished. I wonder if another bite of your aTefaris brownies would help decipher that smile.

Over to you,

Gelawdios (Dios will be next)

Entry 5