The Mirror and I


The mirror and I
Looking one another in the eye
Have been asking each other why,
We tear up and cry?
After we kissed our lover goodbye?

I ask the mirror why
Mirror answers back with another why

Why does his taste lingers in my mouth?
His scent fresh in my house?
My toothbrush isn’t cleansing enough
His stain stubborn and tough
Why doesn’t the shower rinse me of him?
I backspace but can never delete him?
Why is it mirror?
That he defies the rules of nature?
Mirror echoes back
Never to reply, but to ask
To pin me down with the same question
As if I don’t already have full plate of confusion

Get me a mixtape from Maico Music Shop


“Fiammetta…”, an awkward tap on my shoulder followed my name.  All the juicy gossips and silly female rantings of my friends ceased to an abrupt silence. I turned around to see Rami, the genius in our school standing there with a bunch of his friends and some of his groupies- some of the girls in the school have assigned themselves as his dedicated entourage, following him around.

I secretly despised Rami, he was an A-student  and he didn’t seem to try hard in school to get all the highest marks. He was too tall for his age and has an aura of a Sultan’s son from some mediterranean city. He was too fictional character to cruise in my real world settings.  I believed he was too privileged to compete with the rest of the hoi polloi.

I secretly adored Rami, he was like just one of those characters from a romantic manga series. He was exciting and strange as that of manga, and demanded a specific way of approaching and  reading him, he stood out a lot from the rest of the books  on the shelves. And I happen to love reading manga.

“Hi” I waved at him, there was a question in my eyes though. With the same eye, I sent out an evil look at his groupies slush cheerleaders who were giggling uncontrollably.  Rami ignored all the attention from his friends, entourages and my friends and approached me. I stood there frozen. He took out a tape that has a Maico Musika Bet seal tied with a pink ribbon on it and handed it to me. “ Will you listen to this? I made a mixtape for you.”  He smiled that sheepish smile of his and left to join his astonished entourage.

Needless to say that I almost grew wings that day, spread them and flew high and fast to my house. Needless to add  that I spent that day listening and re-listening to the songs he made specially for me. I didn’t feel guilty for ignoring my homework and spending the rest of the afternoon listening to it, for I knew he spent much more time on choosing the songs one by one and making the tape.  I still remember the songs by heart. I still remember Rami from time to time and I still remember Maico Musika Bet and all the tapes, CDs and musics we used to get from that shop.


I was running to get to the subway when my phone buzzed, this annoyingly curious part of me couldn’t wait a little while to take a peek at the Sender ID, sure enough it was from him- the object of my addiction.  Smiling I slide my metro-card just to see my train taking off right then. Now I have that deep scary frown on my face. But who am I to blame but myself for this incident? Certainly not him.

I threw my frustrated self at the nearest seat, checked the schedule of the next train and proceeded with checking the contents of the distracting message from that distracting someone.  It was a playlist of some deep songs with deep lyrics. He sent me a link to the songs. How lazy of him, another part of me mocked his attempt at being romantic or thoughtful, I am not sure which one he was trying to aim and hit. If only Rami would teach him how to win a girl’s heart………

Back in the day, men actually took the effort when they tried to woo a woman, how many of you do you remember Maico Musika Bet or the other music shops in Asmara? How many of you did you make a mixtape or received one? I remember it very well because I used to get a lot of mixtape from my admirers in high school and college.  I loved the thought and the effort mixtape demanded in their making. As such mixtape meant so much and carried deeper meanings of love and adoration. These days, it is just a beep in your phone and that lazy man you are seeing in person or via the web just sends you not the songs but the links to the list of the songs he wants you to hear in his futile attempt to express himself in borrowed lyrics from songs. I don’t usually know whether I should be flattered or dismayed so I just text back a ‘thank you’ emoji, a perfectly lazy response for a lazy form of mixtape or lazy romancing.

Unfaithful Woman


The shower water is ice cold,

But wouldn’t chill me even it’s a hundred fold.

It was senseless, merciless and restless,

Gushing down on me aimless.

I am still unfaithful woman after the shower.

No absolution for my impurity, when it’s over.

I am still his baby,

To the other, I’m his honey.

Warmed in one’s embrace,

In the other’s I sought solace.

Whispered the same thing twice.

To two ears unsuspecting malice.

I have no dagger in my hand,

Yet,three hearts are bleeding cold, dark blood.

Including mine.

Pretending it’s fine.

Is there a hyssop that cleans the soul?

That erases and forgo the foul?

What is wrong with Samson? 


“Delilah!” He called me. Other names finding them too lacking to describe me and my actions. 
“Delilah!” He said it again, this time with emphasis and conviction that brooked no argument. I am perfectly aware of what I have done to deserve this name, I am not that shameless to pretend otherwise. I smiled, but each time he referred me to the Delilah in the Bible, I couldn’t help but shrink with self-inflict guilt that is mashed well with his outright accusation. I hated Delilah from the Bible, well not personally her per se, but at least the traitorous deeds of hers. My friend, of course, was overreacting for accusing me of the same sin as Delilah’s, I prefer to think I didn’t go that far as to sell out his Achilles’ heels and get him killed. It was a minor persuasion on my part that made him confess everything he kept secret for the past years I have known him. Some would even congratulate me and consider me for a position at the CIA, but my friend accuses me of the same sin as Delilah’s. 
I grew up hating Delilah, condemning her of her betrayal and unfaithfulness. I kept casting the first stone, every time I turned The Bible to the pages of the Judges and read the story of Samson and Delilah. 
“Delilah!” He called me one more time.
“Samson!” I shouted back. If we are using the Biblical figures to express the situation at hand, then I want to be fair and call him Samson, the other figure equally participant and responsible in the story of love, secrets and betrayal. That seems to stop him in his tracks. He stopped what he was doing and looked me square in the eyes. I challenged him with an intense and steady look that hinted no surrender to the war which is about to break out. 
“Excuse me?” His voice was calculated, determined and carried a hint of dark humor. I usually wave the white flag and go on hiding to the docks when he acts all calm before the storm he unleashes and raise the hurricane. Not today though. Today, I am not placing the blame only on Delilah. What is wrong with Samson? Didn’t he ever hear the saying “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice shame on me”? Why did he keep going to her and spill his beans, and mind you here, they were no ordinary beans? Is Delilah really the only person to be blamed in this story? The little experience I had with my friend made me see the story in a whole different shade of light. Why was Samson running to her embrace and allow himself to be persuaded and cajoled into giving his most treasured secret, when clearly he knew she was selling off his secrets, which by the way would get him killed? He must have known her intentions from the beginning, that is why he misinformed her in the first place. Delilah isn’t the only felon here, Samson had already decided to gamble his life and ignore his calling. So why blame only her? Because she is Delilah, a woman? 
I was quite satisfied with sharing the blame equally between Samson and Delilah, but could never answer what was wrong with Samson that made him gamble his life time and again. Suicidal? I doubt it. 
But lately, I have learned not to blame Samson when I met my own Delilah and experience how easy it is to surrender your willpower at the mere sight of him. Because now I started to live outside the compound of theories and jumped into the moving wagon of the practical world. I know now how easily Samson succumbed to the temptation of falling into Delilah’s embrace and still intrust her even though she is trying to sell him out. I know now how his willpower must have betrayed him and he no longer wanted to fight back but surrender willingly. I know now why Samson kept going to Delilah’s house. I understand why Delilah has to stay Delilah in Samson’s life. 
Today I blame no one. I cast no stone. I know how it feels to be in Samson’s position while at the same time I could fit in the shoes of Delilah.   But I want to share this with you, if you think you have a Delilah in your life, be it a person, a lover, an addiction, a habit that feeds on your willpower, don’t surrender without a fight. If you must  have, change a gear and switch a lane…….there is a power stronger than Samson’s within you, utilize that power to stay on your feet and avoid your Delilah. 
Pic: Actors who portray Samson and Delilah
(Photo Credit: Joe Alblas) 

Again, at the crossroads …….

Bethelhem Teame


Eureka! I have found the reason why I have always been obsessed with New York City.  It is because the city is divided with thousands of crossroads, just like my life. Dark humor. Yet, I have learned to laugh equally at both dark and bright jokes  nature conjures in my life.  Who can cruise life sober; without any madness, aloofness and such humors?

I left the office with no particular destination in my mind or agenda. Let the hasting feet of mine wind me through wherever they might like, as long as they bring me back to the familiar streets of my place. Once there, I think my mind can take over.  One can only hope.

I joined the rushing crowd that was hasting to get by; my steps were quick, matching their styles. In New York City, everyone is rushing, to and from. In New York City, everyone is always multitasking, even in the subway, where I have to listen to my voice messages, eat my breakfast and read the newspaper at the same time. But today I don’t really know why I am rushing like everyone else who is on schedule and perhaps has a destination in mind. Perhaps an annoying habit.

I stood at crossroads, one after another, giving me a split of a second’s chance to consider and move on with my choice in a blink of an eye.  With every corner and block comes a crossroad. That’s when I realized the cause of my deep-rooted affection towards this big city. The life of continuous crossroads. We share the same life soundtrack heavy metal with deep lyrics of crossroads.

At that moment of tragically beautiful realization, New York City winked at me from the shimmering reflection of the windows of the skyscrapers that have turned golden, basking under the warmth and glory of the sun rays that shined down on them. A sight to the sore eyes. Even if the eyes belong to a cynic who questions everything in life.

Misery loves company, they say. That never couldn’t have been any truer than this. I love New York because I feel like we share the same thing in common. I was standing at the crossroads, both literally and metaphorically. New York was standing ahead of me with many more crossroads that have been part of her for so many years now. If I should ever personify New York, I would call her a she.  I love her company as much as she does her crossroads; mind you here, she hasn’t yet disclosed her affection towards me. But I love her all the same.

 But sometimes I despise her too; maybe my emotions are rising from pure envy or confusion. I am not a hater. I am not. That is probably the best attribute I am blessed with. But New York brings that side out of me for some unknown reason.  I loathe how calm she can be, living with so many crossroads, how she has owned the crossroads within her and had turned it into a beauty, a quality, a hallmark. I am afraid our love story is one of those that is on an on-and-off basis, passionate and consuming, destructive and constructive, elevating and demoting, active and passive, pushing and pulling; a love affair that possesses both forms, sides and meaning of an emotion. Full of bittersweet experiences and feelings. That is unpredictable. Confusing. Enervating. Demanding and challenging.

‘Why stay in such a relationship?’ a wise might ask, a good question. Indeed.  I have always asked the same question, time and again, upon witnessing such dysfunctional relationships of others. I am not at liberty to give explanation for such relationships other than mine. It wouldn’t be right. I wouldn’t fully understand the truth behind it either. But I do know this about my relationship and why I stay in it, for the sheer pleasure of feeling alive. The rush of adrenaline. The energy of the ever-busy city and its tenants. The crossroads, both literally and metaphorically, that you have to cross every single minute.  I am alive in pursuing or getting involved in such relationships. I know some of you might be rolling your eyes in disbelieve or irritated at my ridiculous reasoning……..but it is the truth and as the good book says it, the truth shall set me free.

Yet, I am standing at another crossroad. I have only seconds to make up my mind and choose one. I realized all the ways lead to a destination, as long as the direction is right. Still, it feels intimidating to come across a crossroad and choose one, when readily there are four unknown results of your choice that instant and at the finish line. I can never shrug off the feeling that I am overwhelmed with or am filled with after choosing a road, I am filled with questions, questions I can’t answer but could only anticipate; how would my steps be if I had chosen one of the three others? Will it be as confusing, challenging, demanding as this one? I could only go forward with a dawdling heart that keeps questioning the road it has embarked, wishing to know the avenues of the three other streets I haven’t chosen to travel this time.

Here we go again, I am standing at another crossroad…….