Walking the Talk

Oct 5 , 2019
By Tsion Fisseha

Having received a warning of the roads being closed on the day of "Damera," I left work early and headed straight home. When I got there, my mom was preparing our dinner and my aunt was beside her. They were having a conversation, which was not audible, so I extended my greetings and made my way to my room. After a short while, I heard a scream that was somehow muffled. I rushed out, and I was shocked to see that my dog had dropped dead on the cold marble floor.

The three of us, who were unable to comprehend how a dog who was barking just minutes ago had died just like that, stood there staring at his body. None of us knew what we should do next. None of us had the courage even to get closer to this dog we loved and cared about.

My mom’s first words, after having been silent for a long while, tumbled out. “Call your father. He will know what to do.” My aunt then proceeded to suggest things like, “Let us see if our male neighbours have any clue as to what to do, or let us call that guy who lives across the city.”

And I, all feminist and hater of patriarchy, all believer of equal rights and equal strength, all debater of old beliefs of what a woman should be or act like, all activism and writer of freedom and independence, stood there paralysed, wishing my dad or any other man would come home soon. Because I firmly believed that we three women would not be able to do a single thing about it.

The thing about patriarchy and/or toxic masculinity is that not only does it deny women their rights and desires, but it also embeds within us the idea that despite our struggle of wanting to be freer than the older generations, we are still enslaved under the system and that we are still in need of a better and stronger hand to protect us.

I affirmed this through the sigh of relief I released when I heard the horn from my father’s car. I re-affirmed this when my dad came into my room and said, "It is OK. I am here now."  And I confirmed this when I realised that the comfort I got did not come from the fact he was much older than me, for my mom was by my side the whole time.

Rebecca Solinet puts it this way, “Every woman knows what I'm talking about. It’s the presumption that makes it hard, at times, for any woman in any field; that keeps women from speaking up and from being heard when they dare; that crushes young women into silence by indicating, the way harassment on the street does, that this is not their world. It trains us in self-doubt and self-limitation just as it exercises men’s unsupported overconfidence.”

As sad as it was that my dog had just died, I was even more depressed about the sudden realisation I had encountered. The ugly truth stared me dead in the eye and said “practice what you preach,” but I still stood there, unable to move and unable to even think about my next move. All I could do was pick up my phone and call my dad to say, “Come home, we need your help.”

And I realised that despite this endless fight, I am trying to fight to be the voice for the voiceless; the movement should start from me. Only then can I truly speak and be heard without my voice cracking and breaking a sweat every time I attempt to speak loud and clear.

PUBLISHED ON Oct 05,2019 [ VOL 20 , NO 1014]

Tsion Fisseha is a writer and head of foreign languages in the news department at a local TV station. She has been a part of a pan African poetry slam competition representing Ethiopia and is a member of a rock band entitled the Green Manalishi. She can be reached at tsion.f.terefe@gmail.com.

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