…..Betty and I were slowly getting used to being around each other without the others and it wasn’t difficult because we liked each other but it wasn’t as easy as one would have thought considering we’d known each other and been friends for years. We were learning new things about each other we sometimes liked and sometimes didn’t. I would wake up in the middle of the night and find her bowed over her sketch pad or we would be having lunch or dinner together and she would fall silent. You could see in the way her eyes wondered out the window that she was thinking hard about something. She didn’t talk a lot about the future but I could somehow tell that she had big plans for it. I didn’t like the fact she kept trying to talk to me when I was in the bathroom or that she would always do small things to my outfits like making me ditch my scarf or insisting that my hair should never be held up in her attempt to have me appear more stylish.
We quickly fell into a routine where she would wake up early for work and because I didn’t have a lot going for me, I would accompany her to The Café with a book or my laptop. I did try to find a job but no one in Addis was in the business of hiring high school graduates because they had their own kids to clean and clerk their shops for them.
When the café was relatively slow, she would come to lean on the wall next to my booth with her tray so she could talk to me. She wouldn’t sit down because she didn’t want to appear lazy in front of aunt Martha. We’d made a game of spotting the most interesting people at the café and discussing them.
Situated right in the middle of the oldest part of Addis, Begena had a lot of customers. It didn’t hold large space or have a lot of fancy decorations unless you counted the large traditional harp hanging above the coffee bar. It had a cultured aura that smelled of roasting coffee beans and vanilla icing and sounded like smooth Ethiopian jazz on loop. Old wooden tables were covered in sheep skin and the place looked its age like it’s been around for decades. The regular customer demographic was older men with their newspapers or young men trying to convince their dates of their sophistication or wanderers who happened upon the small café in the side of the road by accident one day and decided it was the right place to be alone. In the summer, when rainclouds hung over the city streets and the windows wept, you could see people’s sentiments in the way they sighed slowly so thick vapor left their lips or how they clasped their coffee cups to keep warm. There isn’t a lot of effort in their eyes to be anything other than what they already are. When the rain came down heavy, everything stopped and we all just waited….