I love my grandma!
The sad part is my mom herself doesn’t know her (my mom’s mom). She died when my mom was only a little girl. So, just like my mom, I didn’t get a chance to know her personally.
But the story of this wonderful woman left a big impression on my little heart when I first heard it. I was a little girl when I began asking about her. Her picture was hanging on the wall in my parent’s house and I was very interested to know about her.
Her name was Haregewein Heletework, daughter of the Mayor of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (ከንቲባ እለተወርቅ ማቲያስ), I think in 1930 (correct me if I am wrong with the year).
She died at the age of 30.
Well, she was married, but her husband (my grandpa), Mengistu Belehu, didn’t have a good role model or a mentor to teach him how to be a father and a husband to such an outspoken and powerful woman like my grandma.
So guess what he did?
After her dad gave her to him, my grandpa took her to his house and locked her up in the bedroom. Can you believe that?
My grandma was an educated woman. She knew how to read and write. Mind you, during that time, a woman was not even allowed to go to school, but she somehow managed to convince her dad to go to school.
My grandpa was a well-off businessman and he thought locking this woman up was the best way to handle her.
Little did he know that he couldn’t lock her up even with an iron-bolted door.
Well, she gave birth to four girls and one boy, and then she ran away.
Don’t you already love this story?
I do! Don’t you wanna know how she ran away?
Well, she made a scarf from homemade cotton and one day, while her husband was not home, she sneaked out of the house and asked a passerby for a ride (only one or two cars a day were passing on the road during that time).
One driver stopped for her and she asked him to take her to Addis Ababa where her dad was (she was living with her husband outside Addis Ababa, but not very far away; I was told the name of the place but the name escaped from my mind). The man asked her to pay and she said, “I don’t have cash but I will give you this handmade scarf,” and the driver agreed and he took her.
And that was the last time her husband, my poor grandpa, saw his beautiful bride.
Her dad didn’t know what his pretty and wise daughter was going through. He thought his daughter was happily married. Well, she was not. After she came to him, she told him everything that was going on in her home and listen to this:
Her dad believed everything she told him! Praise God! Phew! What if he didn’t believe her? I am glad he did!
So her powerful dad took her in and sent a message to her husband saying, “If you are a man, come and talk to me.”
Ufff! Can you help but fall in love with my great-grandpa? I love all men who protect women!
Even if I love my grandpa, I definitely love my great-grandpa more.
Anyways, after my grandma came to Addis Ababa, she took a teaching job in one local school. She was so beautiful that a young medical doctor fell in love with her and he began pursuing her. Unfortunately, that love story ended in tragedy.
Some believe she died of food poisoning. Others believe that she was poisoned by her boyfriend’s ex-girlfriend. Either way, my grandma died at the age of 30.
She was the most outspoken woman of her time. After she came to her dad’s house, she was teaching all her younger sisters and cousins, the women who didn’t get a chance to go to school, how to read and write. I am sure this was against her dad’s home rules, but she again managed to do it anyways.
All of them learned to read their religious books because of her. The last two, my favorite aunts, died within the last two years. They, her younger sisters, were the ones who used to tell me a lot about her.
They always said to me: “You always remind us of our big sister.”
After I had finished pharmacy school, I went back to Addis Ababa, and my parents threw a graduation party (and at the same time, it was my parent’s wedding anniversary party). During my graduation party, both my favorite aunts were in tears and they said, “We wish our big sister saw this! A woman in our family called Dr. Missy! This would have been a big celebration day for her!”
Yes, many of you asked me why I changed my hairstyle. Some of you thought I wanted to look like a teenager!
Well, this hairstyle was not a hairstyle of teenagers during my grandma’s time. It was a decent woman’s hairstyle.
Look at my lovely grandma! Don’t I look like her? Please say, “You do” and make my day! ///