When Sermons Cause Irregular Sleep

The preaching persisted until 8 a.m. and it began some hours after midnight. The first thought to come to mind was ‘how louder will they get before realizing they’re interfering with my sleep?’

It must have been the generator, I thought, not fully awake to comprehend what I had heard.

My grandmother was the one who confirmed the sounds once she got in from whizzing outside. Hadas, or abaye, is fair-skinned and with an orthodox cross tattooed on her forehead, and a history of squinting that has scarred her with a lifetime of crow’s feet around both eyes – a habit that her daughters, including my mother adopted earlier in their lives.

With the use of a power generator to amplify the sounds the sermons held at a nearby church forbid me to obstruct my sleep. And there wasn’t a way to discern the size of the group. One thing was certain, they caused me days of irregular sleep.

At first, this scene, didn’t produce any disturbances in the largest room of my grandparent’s three-bedroom brick house atop a rocky terrain in the small Southern town of Adi Quala. I lied in bed, wide-eyed, surrounded by the darkness and worried that someone in the room would realize I wasn’t sleeping. (Apparently their sleep proved too rigid it couldn’t be broken with any sermon.)

By the same token, I needed to occupy my thoughts with something so I searched for a pen and the built-in flashlight on my iPhone and began scribbling out of the same journal page I’m now referring to.

After all, maybe a higher force wanted me to hear them. If the sudden spike in volume needed to happen to arouse me to question the sound to begin with, then I needed to get up.

That week, I noticed my grandmother’s absence at breakfast time. It was only until her mid-afternoon returns from the church nearby where she’d join us in our evening feasts in the living room. I would later discover that the Christian holiday of Maria resulted in those forceful sermons in the middle of the night and her fasts.

My fastest comparison of the Maria in Eritrea was to the ship’s name I learned the claimed founder of America, Christopher Columbus, use when discovering my birth country.

I questioned why Maria was observed in Eritrean and its purpose among Eritreans of Christian faith. I never got a straight answer, but I have yet to hear about this special holiday in the States. Another discovery made in Eritrea was a miscalculation I held about my grandmother’s ability to regurgitate those late-night sermons. I don’t understand ge’ez, she said on the second night of the sermons. In retrospect I could see why.

4 thoughts on “When Sermons Cause Irregular Sleep

  1. I have tried hard to connect with the story you are narrating.I do not know, I should be honest, it seems: I have failed.Maybe my critical faculty is overdeveloped and it is sharper and heavier on those I considered my sisters.God forbid.

    I think if my Trigrigna has not gone rusty, it isn’t ‘abaye’ it is ‘abayey’. I also think there is something of a double negative here: “forbid me to obstruct my sleep”.I also do not know what precisely is ‘maria’, the chance is I may know it by its other name down in Addis.

    Otherwise keep on writing, keep on inspiring us…I took a cursory look at your piece on Asmara(inos), I dare say it was executed with much more skill.




    1. My other post you mentioned was in fact written with greater thought and I would have appreciated you telling me your thoughts on that one rather than focusing on a post you deem as having no story line. That was an undoubtedly bias decision and for this reason, I do NOT accept you as my brother. My brothers have class and internet etiquette. My brothers are transparent; they saw where they’re from and how they find their way to my blog through commenting on the post or contacting me in another space. You are simply trying to touch a nerve and hurt my creative editorial process through your half-ass compliment. I’m not insecure about my writing because I’m proud of the space I created and will challenge internet trolls who leave comments when they’re only criticizing my work. I am an artist and I won’t always compose something great, however, I am still an artist. I won’t apologize on behalf of this post and I won’t give you anymore keyboard time.


  2. Selam Ariam haftey. Finally I can comment on your piece 😉 Maria is a corrupt word for ‘qidisti mariam’ (saint Mary). In Zoba Debub, especially in and around Adi Quala, they say Maria instead of Mariam. When they swear, they will say ‘Maria adey’ to prove a point. As you have probably noticed, Mariam is widely celebrated in the Eritrean Orthodox church. And I even saw an article on Mariam DaArit here mish 🙂

    The writing angle you took for this peice kind of rolled out on its own with this story of insomnia and the random thoughts that befall us. I liked the story about your grandma, the church, the holiday, tsom and tselot. I always feel like I find myself in those times, I just thought you cut it short before you met the real Ariam. But all in all I enjoyed reading it. Keep writing, keep growing haftey


    1. Hello Fithi. I’m surprised by your ability to analyze the situation, which doesn’t have a clear story line. You were still able to understand it and explain what Mary is. I’m thankful you visited. Talk to you soon haftay.


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