If you are wondering why there are so many photographs of Ethiopian people on this website, here is a little story (written not long ago) that explains why this country is one of the very few places where — after so many years of wandering — I can feel at home.
28 April, 2013… it’s the day of my 50th birthday. Since four years now I have no home anymore. Today, I will celebrate alone at a resort on Lake Awassa, where I often come to connect to the internet.
I turn on the tablet, receive my birthday wishes, warmish copy and paste, synthetic honey, and the silence of those who I would really like to hear from. Again, the sarcasm of jesters, the indignation of the obedient, animated emoticons that come from a far away world, from a now almost non-existent affective network.
Sara arrives, the waitress. She brings me a caffé macchiato with cookies. She is polite and professional, as always. We exchange a few words. I ask her to pinch some more biscuits for me: I do it often.
She goes away. After a few minutes, Sara is back, together with two colleagues. What a surprise! No biscuits but… a cake, beautiful… a candle, a big one… a bouquet of flowers, colorful.
Sara puts the cake on the table. Lights the candle. Holds out the flowers. She wishes to me a happy birthday. And adds: “God bless you”. I don’t know what to say, I don’t know what to do. I don’t know how she knows about my birthday. But I know that those three gifts have cost at least one third of her salary. I ask her to stay and share the cake with me. She can’t: the resort rules don’t allow any kind of personal relationship with their customers. She goes away. She never asked for anything in return.
In a pie prisoners expect to find a lime. Me, already fugitive, I have found the house keys: that was is the exact moment when I realized to be at home and to love this place and its people: a place where, even if they merely know you, people say: “God bless you”. Meaning exactly that. Without any fear of appearing trivial or rhetoric. Without any fear of compromising or to do something for you — the Other — if they see you alone.
I dedicate In Quest Of The Just to Sara — who brought the keys — and to everyone who built this house. You are beautiful!