Yoga Journal Pose of the Day

Thursday, December 25, 2008

diary, part 6

19/11/08: We come at last to the compound I remember from my childhood, but we do not enter from the west, where the gate used to be. We enter from the south, from behind the church and everything looks strange. My perspective as a child would have been from the north, from my home, which was almost exactly in the middle of the compound.

We go first to speak with the director of the hospital that presently occupies the west half of our former compound. (The east half, fenced off from the west half, is now a school of nursing and under a separate administration.) We are invited to look around.

This is what used to be the church once upon a time.

We walk around, coming first upon what used to be my mother's garden and the space where I remember a large fig tree was, from which the school bell used to hang. Dr. Arvid confirms my memory of this piece of the puzzle that is here no longer. We stumble a bit here in recalling exactly where my house used to be, but orientating myself to look towards where the head teacher of the school, our closest neighbour lived, I find myself standing on the mound of dirt where our house used to be.

Standing approximately on the spot where the tower on the west end of our house would have been, the end of the house where my Dad had his office. The black and white stone house in the background on the right is what was the head teacher's house.

looking east at the house, now painted black, where the head teacher and his family lived

The distance to our neighbour's, which in my childhood was such a long, long way, has shrunk somewhat!

Behind where our house would have been we find what used to be the school kitchens. My memories of childhood are filled with the smells of eucalyptus wood, smoke and the delicious aroma of berbere-infused cooking!

Dr. Arvid standing in front of the kitchens.

We peek inside to find that the kitchens are still being used much as they were 50 years ago!

The ladies in the kitchens are shy but allow us to take their picture.

The laundry with what was the mission's clinic on the left.

The front facade of the clinic has been painted this interesting green-blue!

What was the clinic is now used as the surgery for the hospital compound.

One of my earliest memories is of standing here under the front windows of the hospital, quite sad and lonely because my mother was in there, hospitalized on Dr. H's orders. I didn't know my mother was expecting twins and that Dr. H was concerned about toxemia. I only knew that I wasn't allowed to see her and my two-year old world was pretty empty without her!

This small wing with all the windows was Dr. H's surgery. My mother credits him with saving my brother T.'s life. As a newborn, T. suffered from what was perhaps a severe case of infant gastroesophageal reflux.

Dr. H has passed away so I won't have an opportunity to ask him about it, but I am sure Dr. H was pretty reluctant to consider surgery with the limited resources available to him here at that time! I believe, as my mother does, that angels guided Dr. H's hands when he did the surgery.

looking at the front of the clinic, relatively unchanged from 50 years ago; only the presence of new buildings, such as the one on the right, make the scene different

Turning around to look south, almost directly opposite the clinic across what was the drive from the gate into the compound, we look at what was the home of Dr. H and his family:

This is now the pediatric ward of the present-day hospital.

In the pediatric ward, what used to be the living room of Dr. H's home, patients and their families wait.
Just as we are leaving, a gentleman calls out to Dr. Arvid. This youthful gentleman and his father both worked as guards on our compound 50 years ago! Dr. Arvid says my father will this picture is for my Dad:

Dr. Arvid drives us around the south and east perimeter of the former compound and we pass a sports field I remember from my youth. As we're driving along, I'm pointing out the direction of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, the direction in which the government school that was administered by our East Indian friends used to be. I'm amazed at how clear my memories are!
Then coming around to the north-west corner, I recall a well here which fascinated us as kids because we were endlessly amused to watch the frogs swimming in its water. My mother was always worried we were trying to get too close to the well, that we might fall in and I remember strict instructions never to come here on our own. In season, the ground was covered in fragrant white lilies.
The well is still there, in the picture above, and I will go to the well, I hope, when I visit Debre Tabor again!

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