Photos I have missed; memories I have made

September 1st, 2016, 12pm

I’m haunted by the photos I didn’t take.

In May, a young butcher, toque deftly askew, stood in front of a beef carcass draped over a metal rack. The shop was quaint, in Ethiopia’s Oromo countryside, and so rectangular to fit the frame.

I was in a car, driven by Mekkonen, a man who through favour, payment, or trade had taken us on the long dusty drive from Addis Ababa to this town on a crater lake, and now had returned to shuttle us back to the capital. It didn’t feel right to stop him, to ask him to pull over so that I could take a photo of what to him might have seemed unremarkable.

What would I say to the young butcher? How would my request translate? I could offer a Polaroid in trade I thought. But would that have value? Would the photo be as meaningful for him as it might be for me?

A few days later, it was of a young soldier on guard outside of Haile Selassie I’s former residence. The emperor’s palace was empty, Mamay said. When he was there, lions used to roam the property. She said it was deforested now but it looked lush, and verdant, to me. Was I seeing it now, or then?

And then, there he was. The sun raked, low slung across the property. He was slumped against a column, his fingers scrolling languidly across his phone . At his feet, a lamb with that shaggy not woolly coat of the Ethiopian breeds: like friendly hipster goats. The lamb peered thoughtfully through the metal gate. I guess the lions were gone

David Wade said thanks.

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And here I was, hoping I'd learn something about me

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