Dreams. Odd things, really. They manifest in our waking or sleeping state, supplying us with visions that can range from tantalizing to the absolutely terrifying. There are those few precious moments, however, where the impressions formed in the far reaches of our subconscious mind come forth with a clear and concrete meaning for our lives. The realization that we are looking at a possibility we never wanted before can be a unsettling experience. It is like watching a movie we wrote for ourselves, but we can’t ever remember putting pen to paper.
This project isn’t something I wanted to do my whole career, let alone my whole life. I just knew that I had to go “home”. And as I was making plans to go to Eritrea this summer, it came. A succession of images played in my mind’s eye as a film would on a projector screen. The plane, the relatives joyfully teared faces, the music, the land, the food, the ocean, the embrace of everything I lost 34 years ago – all right there for me to touch. Almost.
The moment my mind returned to the present, I knew my future had been altered. This homecoming must be filmed, documented, experienced by others. It is a rather big undertaking, and I have made some progress these last few months. But, as I reach 34 tomorrow, my goal still seems miles away. I need your help. Any rendering of my dream into something real will not happen without you. I can just barely hear the whispers of my father and his forebears. If you join me in this endeavor, I will find out where they want me to go next.
- Araia Patrick Tesfamariam
ps. Donations to the film are the Perfect Bday present!
I still need a lot of help. Filming is, unfortunately, an expensive endeavor. Your donations help to make this love story – this life story, come to the big screen. Thank you and God bless you for your help!
- Araia Tesfamariam
Earlier today I was contacted by a man from Vancover named Tewolde who said that he knew my father. Here is an excerpt of what he wrote.
“When I was a student at Teachers Training Institute Asmara in 1967, Araia was a student at SANTA FAMILIA. There was a villa across the street from PWD Edaga hamus owned by Ato Estifanos Mengasha and had a service with two rental suites. One was rented by my friend and myself and the other was rented by Araia and his room mate named OSMAN. Araia was the only child to his parents, he was extra ordinarily protected and well financed as they were wealthy to that time standard of living.He frequented going to watch ITALIAN movies. One of his favourite actors was ADRIANO CELENTANO. He kept on mentioning the name of the actor quite often, as a result we stopped calling him Araia but CELENTANO, that was his nick name in Asmara. I am glad he has a son and found out his heritage. My admiration to the woman who restlessly worked to answer his question for his son Araia.”
I keep learning so much…..
I was running late today. Printing out my presentation at the FedEx was complicated and I needed to rush to the embassy. I hailed the first cab I saw. As I got in, I noticed the cab driver was Habesha. When I told him that I needed to go to the Eritrean Embassy, he looked at me strangely and asked where I was from. When I told him I was from Ohio, he asked if my mother was African-American. A chill ran down my spine.
He said he knew my father and had met me before. As I looked at his eyes in the rear view mirror, an old memory came to the front of my mind. It was as if his face had suddenly come into focus. I didn’t even need to look at his driver ID card. His name was Araia Isaac. He used to own a restaurant in DC called Massawa.
I met him once and only once. My mother and I had taken a trip to Washington DC when I was 12 and, as we usually did when we visited a big city, we had decided to go eat at a Habesha restaurant.
We met the owner and he was very nice to us. But the reason I remember him to this day, after only meeting him once, was that he was the first Araia I had ever met. I thought I was the only one. It made me feel less weird, and more assured that there were more people like me out there – that I was connected to something.
And here I am, 20 years later, sitting in his cab as I head to the Eritrean Embassy to begin a new chapter in my journey towards self discovery, and everything is coming full circle. I am truly blessed.