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Remebering Bet-Ghiorgis: Our Childhood Paradise

Asmara-Massawa road

The fantastic fairy tale: " Midsummer Nights Dream" as told by Shakespeare reminds me "Bet-Giorgios," the famous resort site located on Asmara-Massawa road. It was built during the hay day of Italian colonial rule in this part of Africa endowed with attractive landscapes resembling the mountainous habitat of Alpanian people. In the late sixties,  one could see a man-made swimming pool, tennis court, ballroom (lageto), and soccer field available only for the upper and business class Italians. Every Saturday night,  it was exciting to see the old and the young in their dancing suits in a dimly lighted chamber with a background classical music such as that of Vivaldi, the great Italian Baroque composer.

Like that Shakespeare's Oberon and Titania dwelling place, it was so jungle, so amorous, so beautiful, and so fearful by night. But the honeysuckle scent emanating  from half-slept branches of the tender trees refreshed the thin air polluted by the smoke of passing cars and trucks along Asmara-Massawa road. In order to ward off the imagined little ghosts at night fall, I used to sing as the following:

If you meet a fairy
Don't run away
They would not hurt you
But they only want to play.

Bet-Ghiorgis is the place where I grew up like those dreamy and studious Eritreans (shemdidatat) of the golden sixties, the most inspiring decade that produced a generation of young writers, artists, musicians, spirituals, comedians, sportsmen and revolutionaries who were  driving forces in the Eritrean liberation movements.

It is a long story indeed!

As for now, let me share with you one of my favorite poems composed the day I joined Dehai. That was in the year of 1995. I hope the younger generation Eritreans as well as the older ones would enjoy reading it. It is time to reflect as the year 2015, the most eventful year in Eritrea history  is close to an end. In the meantime, I wish you all a  happy new year.

Bet-Ghiogis

Once in this jungle
And a resort site
Where the young lovers
Passed their silent nights
While listening
To romantic melodies
Without disturbing
By the howl
Of  passing dogs
A mid a dim light
Of the fiat car
That one could
See from afar
In wonder.....
As the couples kissing
And soothing  each other
By saying, " Non piangi....
Mi fa stare con te
Cinque minuti ancora
Solo per la questa sera!"

From down to nightfall
Sitting and studying
Under the very tall tree
Whose thick leaves
Like a parasol
Overshadowed me.

The stingy ants
Under my lap
Waking me up
After a short nap.

It is hard to tell
The Chameleon is around
Unless it opens
The fearful mouth.

So is the grasshopper
Which you cannot see
In your naked eyes
Before it abruptly flies.

The colorful humming bird
Like a rainbow in the sky
Whose sharp beak
As long as a straw
Smacking and sacking
A sweet juice
From the buds
Of blooming flowers.

At the top in a  vigil
Full of shrill
The crow spies
Under watchful eyes.

But the dummy owl
Round as a bowl
With its piercing eyes
Neither stirs nor flies.

The gray pigeon in pair
Flying together
Before confining to their nest
While hatching their eggs.

The prudent and lonely parrot
Of color....
Green and red
Flies quickly
At the sudden sight
Of sly steps.

For all these...
This bushy...
Is still without king
Of course, the eagle
Which lives on meat.

But now, I am sad
To see Bet-Ghiorgis
The cleared jungle
And quite plane
As Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Now or never...
Let us restore it a new
By planting beautiful trees
So that our migrated birds
Could have a place to live
Once they are returned
To their homeland
In peace.............

-Haile

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Remebering Bet-Ghiorgis: Our Childhood Paradise Reviewed by Admin on 8:43 AM Rating: 5

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