Sometime last year my sister and I were discussing a trip she would be taking, and we were discussing where she would put her things upon her arrival. To put this in context, i’m six years older than my sister, the significant gap in age has caused us to have differing Ethiopian-American Experiences, evidenced by this conversation.
Sister: I don’t know what I’m going to do with my stuff when I get there
Me: Well , you can just put it in the “kumsatin”, i’m sure they’ll have one and you can lock it.
Sister: *gives me a blank stare”
Me: WHAT? (i’m driving and can’t really see her staring I can just hear the sudden silence coming from her and realize she’s looking at me like i’m crazy)
Sister: bursts into laughter, You just made that up right, I swear you just make up words ALL THE TIME!
ME: (laughing as I’m speaking) What are you talking about
Sister: KUMSATIN, What the Heck is a KUMSATIN, you made that up that’s not even a word
ME: WHAT yes it is, you don’t remember the Kumsatin in Ethiopia
Sister: I don’t know what you are talking about, How do you know these things, your the only person that knows, no one knows what a Kumsatin is.
ME: ask anyone,
Sister: I’m calling Cousin X (for anonymity purposes but she knows who she is, one of our cousins, close in age to me)
Me : fine call her she knows what it is
Sister: OMG, I swear you’re so weird, you just make these things up all the time (as she is dialing the number)
Me: I’m telling you she’s going to know what it is.
Cousin: (Now on speaker phone) Hey guys
Sister: Ok, explain this to us, your on speaker phone, What is a Kumsatin, You know she’s always making these things up.
ME: You know what a Kumsatin is don’t you?
Cousin: Laughing on the phone hysterically…WHAT made you think of that? Ya I know what a Kumsatin is, its the closet / wardrobe thing that grandma and grandpa had in Ethiopia, but isn’t that an old school word.
Sister: What you actually know what that is?
Me: See I told You I didn’t make it up.
Sister: You’re still weird for thinking of that
Cousin: What made you think of it, that’s such an old school word.
Me: I don’t know it was the only thing that I could think of to describe what I was thinking about.
Sister: Ok well thanks for clearing that up I really thought she was making it up
Cousin: No problem….
The conversation obviously went on for several minutes, but you all get the idea. Sometimes the only word I can think of to describe something is in Amharic, creating funny moments like the one above.