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I Will Hit You With This and Other Stories

June 28, 2012

Tonight was my first night walking home after dark in Addis.

Usually I run out of work, run to the gym, work-out like mad, and shower as fast as humanly possible, all just to make it home before dark. But today I was feeling a little more relaxed…I had been out late for dinner last night and walked all the way home with no hassles at all – but there were 3 of us…So telling myself it’s only 7:15, nothing will happen, I took it easy.

I left work, casually wandered to the gym, took my time working-out and took a leisurely shower afterwards. So as I am leaving the gym and walking down the main road, Bole Road, I hear whimpering. I look around to see where it was coming from. It was a boy of about 15 yrs old, sitting on some bricks a few feet away from the sidewalk, crying. Is he okay? I said out loud to myself, but then kept walking. Thinking if I were in my own country I would stop. Of course I would.  Without even thinking. But it’s just too dangerous here, you never know what’s genuine and what’s not.

A premonition of things to come.

10 minutes later I am literally 75 metres from the security gate of our compound when I see 4 boys, all about 11 years old, crossing the street in a very organized way, approaching me and finally surrounding me.

Now for those of you who have been to any big city in the developing world you’ll know this is one of the most famous robbery schemes there is; gangs of kids come up and ask to shine your shoes or for money or what have you and the next thing you know your wallet is gone.

So they approach me and I yell “Get” and think how awful I sound, like I’m talking to dogs or something. But then they all start chanting “git git git” after me and my guilt is quickly replaced with something bordering on rage.

They follow me down the pitch black street while I warn them in a very stern voice Get away, though they obviously don’t understand. Now they are starting to grab at me from all sides, one touching one arm, I swat him away while keeping watch of my purse, then another grabs onto the other arm – the first time I just swat him away but then two of them grab my arms hard at the same time and before I knew it I was swinging my arm with the force of a major league batter and threw him a few feet while I yelled at the top of my lungs I WILL HIT YOU WITH THIS.

I seriously have no idea where A. That swing and B. Those words, came from. It’s not like I planned them. I mean they didn’t even make sense; technically I was throwing him, not really hitting him. And what was “this” that I was going to hit him with? My arm? I guess I meant the bag of junk I had with me that I had unconsciously balled up around my wrist to use as a weapon.

Most importantly, it was not much of a fair warning shot, I was already in the process of hitting him [SIC]. In any case he flew a good few feet and the other 3, upon seeing this, all let go and backed away.

Officially back to being home in time for sundowners on the balcony.

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