One morning a group of kids set out to go to Durfo from the heart of Asmara. They reached Akhria. Then they went straight through the road that takes to Adinfas. Somewhere near enda-ERA, a guy called the group of children and wanted to know where they were going. They replied that they were headed to Durfo. Judging from his appearance, the guy didn’t know whether to laugh or not. In the meantime, sternly, all he could ask was, “Do you know the way that takes you to Durfo?” All eyes on me; and all fingers pointed at me. I was the one who told them, “Let’s go to Durfo.” I was the one, amongst the group of children, who wanted my friends to share the joie de vivre of A’dna with me. Alas! That guy prevented us. I imagine now what it would look like had we kept our way straight to Durfo. Would we end up in a bad situation like the children in the book called “the lord of the flies”? Of course not; but another person would thwart us and another person would make us go back. We were little kids for heaven’s sake.
This time, now that I am old enough, let me please take you to Durfo for real.
People think Durfo is only the vicinities of Bar-Durfo. The real Durfo is, however, very vast and deep, with mountains spread like a river that pours from a narrow gorge into the sea. The real Durfo has mountain chains which connect Adishuma, Ghindae, Bahri, and Riisi Adi with highland areas like Asmara, Adi-nfas, Beleza, Kuazien etcetera.
After the end of my school year every summer all I ever did was go to Ad’na and spend time there. Beles (cactus fruit, prickly pear) was one of the splendors of Durfo that attracted me besides family love. Not just I, everyone waited for the Beles to be ripe – starting from the cattle that fed us their milk to the monkeys who live in the top most part of the mountain called Sefer-hbei; and from the birds to the business people who live in Asmara. Everyone enjoyed (and still enjoys) the sweetness of Beles. However, presently, rumor has it that Beles is coming out a little late in summer and is falling earlier. As a consequence, bees which are normally very busy at the flowery stage of Beles, bees which are believed to play a big role in keeping the natural order of nature from distortion, are going to be idle for some time if what is said to be happening to Beles is true. Even the monkeys, instead of engaging themselves in the caves of the cactus trees, spend their time in places they should not be. So of late, it must be due to this rumor that I have been a little reluctant to go to Ad’na.
A’dna (our village), its name, as afro mentioned, is Durfo. It is located in the outskirts of Asmara – at the bases of the north eastern mountains just by the sides of the riverbeds. The name, Durfo (lit. unapproachable forest), represents, along with the mountain chains, many small villages, namely: Antsefet, Ad-Shuma, Nebera, Ad-Daerotai, Ad-Hduug, Wa’aga, Fologobai etc. Antsefet was therefore the very place I used to visit because my grandfather from my mother’s side, owns farmland there.
At night in our Niidi (bed made up of stones and clay) hyena’s laughter made us laugh. At certain occasions when the laughter seemed to come from nearby places, it made us think worrisomely about the cattle we locked in the backyard surrounded (fenced) by cactus. Monkeys’ shout was often disturbing, because the presence of monkeys’ hints the presence of Leopard (Nebri). According to my grandfather it was the leopard which made them scream. Now the times must be changed as I hear some people say, “In Durfo, if you hear monkeys scream or shout once in a week, you are lucky. Hyenas are not even laughing anymore.”
…………..to be continued
Written by Aron Tesfa-alem