Unless something unexpected happens, this time of December every year is when I do some shopping and book my tickets to fly home for Christmas. Every close friend and colleague of mine knows that my birthday and Christmas are the two most important days of my life for personal reasons and I couldn’t think of spending these two days with anyone else but with my best friend, my mother.
This year, it is a whole lot different. It’s been 35 days since the invading forces of Ethiopia and Eritrea, and with the help of UAE drones, started killing my people, destroying infrastructures and lotting properties (both private and governmental) from Tigray under a total information blockade. Like many of my fellow Tigrayans who are living outside of Tigray, I don’t even know if my mom is alive or dead. The first time news and thought of death hit me very hard was after losing my genuinely generous grandfather when I was a high school student. Every time I try calling my mom’s unreachable phone after the start of the genocidal war against my people, I remember the day I lost my grandfather.
I spent most of my late childhood days with my grandparents. I was so close to my grandfather as close as I am to my mother now. Every night before he goes to bed and every morning when he wakes up, my grandfather used to pray consistently. At the end of his prayers, I remember him saying, “God, may you bless your people and bless Ethiopia forever”. At that very young age, I had no idea what Ethiopia is. I wanted to be like him and that’s when I started going to Sunday Church School all throughout my elementary and high school-days. I ended up joining Mahibere Kidusan when I was a freshman college student with the desperate quest of Ethiopianism and the Ethiopian Orthodox church my grandfather was so attached to and passionate about. After a few years, it started becoming clear to me how utterly despicable the politics of the Ethiopian Orthodox church is and the cruelty and hypocrisy of some of the religious actors.
Seeing the very Ethiopians I went to the same college and church together celebrating the killing of my people didn’t come as something of a surprise for me. The very Ethiopian priests, pastors, artists, singers, and elders many believed were peacemakers are now beating the drums of deep hatred and celebrating the genocidal war waged to annihilate the people of Tigray didn’t come as something of a surprise for me either. Looking at it in hindsight, I couldn’t be more right now but I knew they were very hypocrites back then and this is one of the main reasons why I completely disassociated myself from their religious institutions for almost 11 years now.
As pro-Ethiopia as he was, I don’t know what my grandfather would have felt if he was alive today. What does it hurt more than seeing the very country you worshiped for so many years of your lives and the very country you defended from invaders to the best of your ability is killing your own people in coordination with vindictive foreign forces? He would have been totally shocked for the lack of a better word. What would have happened to the innocent Tigrayan refugees who managed to escape the Amhara extremists from the west of Tigray if Sudan wasn’t our good neighbor? Hoping that she is alive and well, will my mother continue being attached to Ethiopia?