Rivalry between Tesfom & Habtom
This is a story of two families who lived as close neighbors for many years. The fathers of both families were close friends and confidants and their children grew together in the same compound. As children of similar age, they used to play together, becoming at times close friends and at other times, opponents and foes. From among the children, Tesfom and Habtom were the most competitive contestants and rivals.
Habtom had to drop out of elementary school, to go to work, to augment his family’s meagre income. Tesfom on the other hand, whose family had no financial problems, continued his education. After treading their separate paths, they ultimately got married and settled down.
The story opens its curtains in Asmara, Eritrea, in 1952 and stretches for 21 years, up to 1973. When Tesfom’s wife, Medhn and Habtom’s wife, Alganesh, gave birth to twins at the same time and in the same hospital, they found an occasion and an opportunity to become close again.
They eventually went on to become co-workers, business partners, neighbors and God fathers to each other’s first-borns. Their younger brothers, Araya and Dermas started to assist and participate in the workings and activities of their businesses. All these enabled their wives, children and families to become much closer than before. This brought enormous gratification to the two parents, Grazmach and Bashay, who initially started the successful business partnership and love between the two families.
Tesfom and Habtom and the two families became extremely successful in all aspects of life and business. When they were at the pinnacle of their success, slight disagreements and misunderstandings started to creep between the two families in general and Tesfom and Habtom in particular.
These small problems and misunderstandings that could have been tackled and ironed out easily, suddenly took an ugly turn. This quickly progressed into severe rivalry and enmity between the two protagonists. They soon became mortal enemies and started an avalanche of events which eventually brought turmoil and havoc to themselves, to their wives and even to their innocent children and families.
This long winding and complicated story is about how two neighbors and partners, with differing and inherent weaknesses and personalities, and consumed with hatred had to unnecessarily pay great personal and family sacrifices. This is a story of justice, aggression, betrayal & steadfastness.
It is is a story of genuine family love, thoughtfulness, neighborliness, and successful partnership that suddenly turns sour, due to irrational rivalry and obduracy and how the families eventually slide into an abyss of failure, loss, separation, grudge and enmity. It is a story that vividly illustrates how all these could have been avoided and what lessons and wisdom one could draw from their bitter experience and predicament.