Monday, September 19, 2016

The Long History of Rundassa

By: Tesfaye Gebreab
Translated by: Silvana Nagga

He left the place he was born and raised at, and crossed the border for hunting in a place known for its dense forest. He was riding his horse in the middle of the forest, wandering and admiring the scenery. He was awakened from his deep fascination by the fact that he drifted off his trailer and he is lost in the middle of nowhere. He was worried as he could not maneuver around the dense forest and he does not know which way to go. He then suddenly sees a farmer walking around his path; and he felt so relieved. And the famer felt surprised.

“Good evening Gebar (ገባር)” said the horseman in an insulting expression.
The farmer responded by taking his hats off in a respectful way. The horseman continued arrogantly:
“listen Gebar, I left my village for hunting but I am now lost in the forest. So I want you to show me the way out; and do it quickly. You will realize how lucky you are for meeting me when you find out later about who I am. Now, just hurry, go-on”
They kept on across the forest; the farmer was on foot to the front and the horseman on the horseback right behind him. They were feeling thebreeze that comes from Chomenriver. Finally the horseman started lamenting.
“Listen Gebar !I am worried that it will get dark before I get back to my village. I am not happy with your walking. You better hurry up”.
The farmer ignored the call, and kept walking on the same pace.
“You didn’t hear me? I said hurry up!”
No answer.
“Hey man, do you think I can get to my village before it gets dark?”
For the first time the famers answers: “I don’t think so. It is getting late”
The horseman is worried; he has no idea which way they are heading. But he had no option other than following the farmer. He was even more frightened by the famer’s indifference. He thought of relaxing of his tone in order to get the farmer’s response.
“Hey brother! Maybe you are tired. Why don’t I walk for now and you ride the horse?”
The farmer just took his hats off to thank him and told him that he prefer walking. So they kept on walking. The birds retired to their nests. Wild animals are roaring loud, wind is getting stronger, and the forest is darker.
The horseman slowed his horse and started pleadingthe farmer: “my dear brother! It is indeed good to meet you. My father was famous: he took part in the hagermaqnat[colonization campaigns]. He use to have a lot of Gebarsas serfs. My name is Girmachew by the way”.
The farmer took his hats off again with respect and he gave his name:
“Rundassa is my name”.
The horseman is now more courteous as it is getting darker:
“I am sure I might have offended you when we met earlier; I sincerely apologize for that”.
The farmer returned his courtesy by taking off his hat. They kept on going until they arrived around some mud and grass made traditional houses.
“This is my house. Since it is dark now, you might as well spend the night here and continue the journey tomorrow” suggests the Rundassa.
The farmer’s wife hosted the guest really well. The kids fed the Girmachew’s horse. The chickens were all in their own places. You can hear hyena from short distance. Girmachew kept on thanking the family and finally went to his bed after dinner was over.
“Hey Sir”, he said; “sir, I don’t know how to repay you. Your courtesy and helpfulness is just amazing. I am so grateful for that. But, let me ask you this: can you promise me that nothing will happen to me here during the night?”
The farmer felt disappointed for hearing this:
“Why are you so cynical? Aren’t you our guest?” he lamented.
Fire is out by then; it is a complete darkness. You can hear wild animals roaring from far and also from close-up. The Rundassa and his children took their spears and machetes and went outside to chase the animals away; they screamed and used fire against the animals. The horseman didn’t feel at ease in that house and could not fall asleep. Around dawn, he felt asleep.
The Rundassa woke the horseman up right before the sunrise.
“come-on, wake up, it’s best you start your journey before it gets late”.
The horseman got up, washed up, put his cloths on and prepares to ride his horse while thanking Rundassa. The Rundassa calls his youngest son: “Bilo! Bilo!”. His name is Bilisumma[freedom] and he run to his father.
“Go and show him the way to his village” the farmer instructed.
Bilisumma went to guide the guest. And Rundassa went out to his usual farming chores. The sun is out and unusually cheerful; the sky was getting brighter.

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