Read this short story by Loza about brothers and loss and few more things. Share your thoughts. I thrive on them.

We call Thursday ‘hamus’ in my language. It is funny now because it suspiciously sounds like hummus. But it also sounds like ‘amist’; five in my language which makes sense because thursday is also the fifth day. 

I loved Hamus. My mom loved Hamus. My brother loved Hamus. But  my brother also died on Hamus. I hate Hamus now. My brother didn't even live long enough to love Saturdays more as a normal corporate servant. Seriously, Abush, what is in Hamus? 

I know what he would say. Emaye, our mom, makes her famed siga wot and we have it with fresh injera. I have always loved fresh injera. The smoothness. It is as if it will melt on your fingers. He would say we would have coffee with tena adam and just spend the night talking and laughing around the coffee. 

Except no, Abush. We don’t do that anymore. Hamus is a weekly reminder that you are gone and will never come back. A weekly bothering reminder that you will always be 21 and 3 months old. You don’t even know what happened after that, right? Nothing. Nothing happened. Everything kept quiet and none of the things we thought would happen didn’t. Abush, the younger people don’t even remember  (yes there are younger people now. We are no longer young. You would laugh to see the state of my hair) all the things we did. 

I remember how we left that morning. We didn’t even eat anything. Ema was still sleeping lest she wouldn’t have let us go. I still regret that you died without having breakfast. That is a silly thing to regret, right? But you loved breakfasts. That is why you couldn’t even fast filseta. The 16 days only fast every kid in our neighborhood did. We would leave you behind to go to mass. I always thought you were too young to fast anyway. Silly me. You were but two years younger than me. But you loved breakfasts too much to die without it. 

We were so excited. We were making a difference. Throwing stones to make a country. I can still feel the rush we felt that morning on my face but I always cry after it now. You had made some sign. You wrote ‘ Democracy and justise’ on it. Only years later on some random Thursday that I remembered you spelt it wrong. I itch to tell you. 

You were wearing some jeans. Very blue. I remember the jeans well because they gave us back at the hospital. And it had bloodstain on the right cuff. I keep on asking myself how that happened. You were shot on the forehead. They couldn’t have mistaken the trouser because I know it, you have let me borrow it a few times and it is the same one. Plus it still had the belt. Why do I wonder about such silly things? I don’t know. They also gave us your cross by the way. Ema took it. That green shiny cross of yours with the thick black thread around it. You liked it when it went up and down with your adam’s apple so had it so tight around your neck. And ema would say someone would strangle you with it if it is this tight. We laughed at her a lot when she said this. Who would want to kill this useless boy? I said. It is still my question honestly 

And a red shirt. With your hair curled like we used to do it back then. It took you more time and more gel to have it like that. You had thicker hair. But full. Mine was finer compare to yours. But yours would have resisted age more. 

It was supposed to be an easy thing. We would demonstrate and throw a few stones here and there. They should listen to our questions. They should call us our representatives for discussion. This is a democratic state. You can’t just do what you want and get away with it, right? Right? 

Again, wrong! 

When we got there many of our friends were there as well. We had our signs and cries ready. Everything was planned. I told you not to leave my side. You smiled that lazy smile of yours. And off we went!  I vividly remember that day. It comes in my dreams and I have re-lived it multiple times with the same outcome every time: you dead and I alive. 

First there were words; discernible, loud, angry. Words like democracy, justice, fairness and some other words. All of them a mouthful in our language. Then there were some kind of order through the microphone asking us to disperse immediately. Why didn’t I make us leave? Am I not after all the elder one? Wasn’t it my responsibility to protect you? I should have had a better sense, right? 

But it didn’t even cross my mind to leave. We had things to do. We were on a mission. 

We continued chanting and we even had some kind of song, right? How long has it been? I hate that time goes and I lose bits and bits of our time together. We don’t even have pictures together from that year. You only have this one you had for your license. You were going to get a license and drive those blue monsters in our city. You didn’t. It pained me to see your license lying around. I know how much you wanted it and how you worked really hard to put the money together for that. 

Then there were shootings and nothing could be heard anymore. Just screams and shouts. And we started running. But we weren’t getting anywhere because we were packed like sardines and everyone was trying to run too. Meanwhile, people would just fall beside you. Then you kind of turned your face. Why? I don’t know. Did someone call your name? Did you want to see the shooters? Why the hell did you turn? And what if you didn’t? Would you have still died? 

But you did. And just at that split of a second, a bullet got you right on your forehead. I don’t remember much after that. You didn’t say anything after that either. No goodbyes. No damn it. Nothing. You kept on smiling that lazy smile of yours with your closed eyes. Your face so serene. 

The ‘lekso’ was quiet. Afterall there were many young people who died in our neighborhood. The edir had a collective dinkuan, tent. The mothers just sat on the foam and cried together, there was no one to console anyone. No one to promise better days or say kind words. We just cried together. 

There were no young people playing cards at the tents. Many were dead. Others were  still at the hospital. Some have been arrested. Others, unlucky, like me were just in shock of it all. The realness of it. The cruelty of it. The strangeness of it. The loneliness of it. The guilt of it. 

No one had put on the television or the radio for months. We were just rotting away in our guilt and solitude. All of us. 

Then someone did. Then we realized the world has continued in its usual pattern. 

And that was it for me. 

04/05/16 (E.C)


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