When authors physically die …

When authors physically die,
what do you do?
Do you just cry,
or do you remain tearless,
cherishing their living words?

Death recently took away
two of my favorite writers:
Sibhat Gebregziabher
and Mamo Wudneh,
both Ethiopia’s
literary giants.

Gash* Sibhat,
like the French Émile Zola,
was a free thinker,
an advocate of naturalism,
a witty and unique storyteller,
an avant–garde
who immortalized forgotten souls,
young misfits, oppressed characters,
the poor, and the prostitutes;

Ato* Mamo introduced me
to popular spy thrillers,
from Mossad’s to KGB’s hit list,
and penned some of the best
Ethiopian historical novels
that celebrated Ethiopia’s
heroes and heroines
such as Alula Aba Nega
and Abdisa Aga.

Both writers, unique
in their own ways,
wrote superbly in Amharic,
profiled memorable characters,
and elevated Ethiopian literature
to the highest level.

So what do you do
when such authors die?
Do you just cry?
Are they even dead?
Or just sleeping
since their words
are still walking?

No, they cannot be dead!
The author is never dead!

Thus, I am tearless
though my heart is very sad.
I know they will still be busy,
writing quietly about their afterworld,
nonstop like crazy.

May my dears sleep in peace!


Strange — is it not? — that of the myriads who Before us passed the door of Darkness through, Not one returns to tell us of the road Which to discover we must travel too. — Omar Khayyam

*Gash — a less formal and affectionate title in Amharic that Ethiopians use to address men older than their age. Diehard fans, including yours truly, and colleagues of author Sibhat Gebregziabher have always addressed him as Gash Sibhat. 🙂

*Ato is Gash’s equivalent, but it is more formal, similar to saying Mr. or Sir (pronounced as the ato in atop).

For women, you would say Weyzarit (for young and/or single woman, i.e., Miss) and Weyzaro (for older and/or married woman, i.e., Ms.); these are formal addresses. Gash’s equivalent for women would be Etiye, more respectful, and Etete (often for your own relatives)more affectionate.


8 thoughts on “When authors physically die …

  1. heya!!!.. Elyas how are you ??? i missed you… yea writers can never die…… mentally never and never.. because they make us feel their presence by their writing… they occupy big space in our hearts and minds.. especially mine… i was not able to connect to internet these days but there were some of the pages saved of my favorite readers including your posts… i read them to make me feel good.. and yes.. how about Hindi learning…??? don’t ask me about amharic… lots of stuff.. lol.. n bit lazy sometimes… lol:-):-):-):-):-D:-D:-D:-D:-D:-D ;-)…

  2. nefsachewin yimar!

    they were showing a rerun of sibhat on meet etv from 13 years back. it was cool, the way he spoke.

    mamo also, he was big on espionage and warfare of all kinds 🙂

    this i heard today: the title one uses for a lady whose marital status one is not sure of —woizerot 😀

  3. cheer up … but surely our hearts are sad to see anyone go.
    in a way it helps to shed some tears. that has a soothing effect.

    but as you said, the great writers LIVE through their words.
    that’s the great thing about writers 🙂
    treasure their words …

    you have written it so nicely

  4. I am so sorry for the loss of your favorite authors and mentors, Elyas. I never thought of it before this, but I do think authors live on. They live on in their pages, books, words and in our minds and hearts. We always have favorite sayings, stories or quotes that stick with us for a long time, or forever. That’s pretty powerful!

    1. Rats. I always forget something.
      I like the way you wrote: “or just sleeping since their words are still walking” love that! Awesome writing, my friend!

      And thanks for teaching us some Ethiopian words! That’s cool! I was studying the pronunciation and trying to remember them!

  5. Yes, they never die. In many of the sonnets we see the poets acclaiming the eternity of the written words in contrast with the transcience of all other man-made structures. Writers and their words are immortal. Beautifully presented, Elyas!

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