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Remembering and Bidding Farewell to a Wonderful Woman and Friend: Mehret Iyob

Ghelawdewos Araia, PhD                                      4/21/2017

I was shocked and completely taken over by the bad news on the passing of Mehret Iyob; I did not know until a friend told me five days after the untimely death of Mehret and her body laid to rest on April 15, 2017 at Asmara, a city where she was born and brought up. The passing of Mehret is a major loss for her immediate and extended families and it is with deep sorrow that I am extending my condolences to her husband, Beraki Gebreselassie, her children, and her sisters Ararat Iyob and Ruth Iyob, and the rest of her brothers and sisters.

I have known Mehret for a long time, spanning at least four decades, i.e. since our elementary and high school days; at the Haile Selassie Secondary School, were we were enrolled, we became close friends. In fact, my friends (including Andehaimanot Gebremedhin) and I (the boys) and Mehret’s group (the girls) established a strong and intimate relationship while doing our studies as high school students and enjoying the school campus at the same time; it was really joyous to have the Mehret group and we were simply having a good time without ever anticipating our future destinations.

Among the girls that were friends of Mehret were Hebret Berhe and Mitslal Lijam; three beautiful girls with impeccable physical appearance that almost every student and teacher alike was attracted to them, and a significant number of students and teachers attempted to date them but without success. Even my own group, for some unknown reason, was not successful in establishing a romantic relationship with these three girls. One fine sunny day, during a break time, I was chatting with Mehret, Hebret, and Mitslal in front of the entrance to the main building of the school and one Amharic speaker teacher, tall and handsome with discoloration on his hands, came by and provoked a talk with us; while talking he was looking unto the faces of all the three girls, without ever making a glance at me; he probably did not like my presence but it was obvious to me that he was seeking attention from all of them, and in due course of his talking he implied that he wanted to have a relationship with one of them, but the three of them burst into laughter and ended their laughter by sarcastic smiles on their faces. The teacher, of course, was offended although he did not exhibit any anger; however, he expressed his inner feelings by saying one Amharic proverb: Kejingero Konjo Min Yimerarťu, literally and roughly translated it means ‘one cannot make a choice of beauty from monkeys’.  Mehret, Hebret, and Mitslal again laughed loudly and the psychologically wounded teacher was compelled to leave. To be sure, the teacher acted like the proverbial monkey that was unable to reach the grapes and said, “The grapes are sour”.

At a later stage in our high school days, the Mehret group brought unto their circle one pretty girl by the name Senait Bahta, but before Senait joined the group the three girls were popularly known as The Three Musketeers and I don’t quite remember who gave them this label and why, but it seems to me it was due to their discreet behavior rather than their beauty and attractiveness. It is also highly probable that they were named The Three Musketeers because none of the boys were able to break through their formidable circle and have them as girlfriends. The name did not change even after Senait joined the group and the number became four; but then, by a twist of historical irony, Mitslal left the Group to Germany and the number three continued until all of us graduated from high school and joined Haile Selassie I University (now Addis Ababa University) during  academic year of 1969-1970.

Meheret was not only physically attractive and beautiful (not to mention her figure and stylistic Afro hairdo) but she was also incredibly beautiful from within. She had a great heart, and she was unassuming, soft spoken, calm, quiet, and with all the attributes of serendipity endowed to her by the universe. I say this because Mehret was one of the few women who were fortunate enough to be loved and respected by both men and women, and in most instances she got help and love from her acquaintances without ever expecting anything from them. In brief, Mehret most often encountered pleasant surprises, but I would not know whether her encounters were attributable to grace or mere chance, or a combination of both that I am not qualified to evaluate.

But other qualities and behavior of Mehret that I can evaluate with confidence were her kindness, honesty, down-to-earth outlooks, and her alarmingly humane propensities that forced us to love her in return.  This was a special woman by all measure and standards, who could easily outshine the most celebrated personas who extend goodness to humanity. Mehret was an embodiment of goodness.

I believe Mehret was destined to talk less and do more, and as I stated above she was far from being an incessant talker. However, although her lips were sealed for the most part, she expressed her profound ideas by her beautiful, round, and perceptive eyes; talking eyes I ever encountered. One can safely assume that Mehret had a fine brain behind her forehead by just looking at her intelligent eyes.

One of course becomes and is not born with all the intelligence that humans acquire over the course of their lives. At least 75% of intelligence is acquired from the environment and exposure really matters. The first environment to which we are exposed to is the homestead unto which we all are born, and Mehret was lucky to be born in a great family. Her father, Dr. Iyob was one of the earliest educated elites and her mother Weizero Lu’ula was a unique woman who loved to bear and bear ideas, not to mention her hospitable behavior that was immensely inviting, and it is because of the qualities of this loving mother that my friends and I used to frequent the house of Dr. Iyob, situated between St. George Church and Ras Mekonnen Bridge in Addis Ababa. It is thus not surprising that Mehret became a smart woman, because she was molded and polished by a strong family; Mehret’s intelligence is also shared by her younger sisters, Ararat and Ruth.

Mehret has made a transition but her legacy will live on forever. She will not be forgotten, and by way of bidding her farewell I like to conclude by reciting the ancient Egyptian discourse of conversation conducted between God, Osiris and his son Horus:-

Thy head is like that of Horus of the Duat, imperishable

Thy body is like Khenti-merti, imperishable

Thine ears are the two daughters of Tempt, imperishable

Thine eyes are the two daughters of Tempt, imperishable

Thine nose is like that of Anpu, imperishable

Thy teeth are like that of Horus Sept, imperishable

Thy flesh is the daughter of Tempt, imperishable

Though shall never perish, thy Ka* shall never perish, a Ka established.


Mehret, you shall never perish and you are imperishable!

Ka* in ancient Egyptian Kemetic language means ‘soul’. © copyright IDEA 2017