I told your grandparents (Papa’s parents) about you today. Well, the plan had been to call your Papa and then have him call your grandparents, your mother specifically, and then we would do an English-Amharic type of telling. Instead, this is what happened. Don’t worry, nothing bad. I had to buy a phone card and I called your Papa but it was way too early…0400 his time, I think…so it took him a beat to realize that, NO, I was NOT at the airport because my phone call showed up on his caller ID as a +251 number. He did get a bit excited that I was at the airport and had surprised him. He asked me twice if everything was okay and then when I asked about taking a taxi, it was like he startled awake and was like, no, let me come and get you…are you okay?
It was cute.
Then I burst his bubble. Anyway, here is what happened.
I called your grandma’s phone and your grandpa answered, probably because my number showed up as a 251. So I had to talk to your grandpa and I had 6 minutes to tell him about you. Ethiopians say hello foooorrreeeevvvverrr. It takes about 10 minutes for us to complete the normal greetings – a joyful back and forth of ‘How are you?’, ‘I am well, how are you?’, ‘I am well, how are you doing?’, ‘I am well, by God’s grace…’
You get the gist.
So I tell him that I have news for him and I don’t have much time on the card. I just said, are you and inat ready to have a lijlij (grandchild)? It is their first, my mom’s seventh so I assumed it was HUGE news. He sounded a bit surprised and then he recovered and asked me to speak with your grandma. So we did some greetings and then I told her, in my best Amharic, ‘the grandchild is coming’…and then I added…’it’s a boy’..and then Google dropped my call.
I dialed back. I had one dollar and 1 minute. I called back and she picked up right away. ‘Betam destagnen’ she exclaimed, meaning, ‘I am very happy’.
And then she asked when I was coming back to Ethiopia.
I tried to say ‘After the baby is here’…and then, right then, the phone card cut us off because our minute was up. Maaan. I would have loved to have seen her face. I love your grandma and I am so happy that, because of you, I put another centimeter to her smile!