"The Spider and the Glass Wall"
Mulugeta’s earliest understanding of life and death. I will retell this story as he told me.
I love my father very much. I love him, I love him. He is a great man. This is what Mulu always says, and this is where I’ll begin.
When I was 8 years old, my father bought me a big black poisonous spider. Larger than my hand. We sectioned off a room in our home in Eritrea for the spider to live. My father bought a large piece of glass and a group of men installed it down the center of the room.
I would sit there for hours, staring at this beautiful creature. I was spellbound by her swift, fluid movements. We purchased mice nearby and I would watch her eat them. For several months, nothing changed. Yet I grew closer to the spider — as any child does to their beloved pet.
After a time, something strange happened. The spider appeared to be less active and was not eating as frequently. All of her energy was put into spinning a ball of web in the corner of the room. The web grew thicker and thicker over several days. “Why is the spider doing this?”, my father asked. I did not know (although he did).
I came to see the spider in the morning, but discovered an empty room. I rushed to find my father. He was calm and walked to peer through the glass wall with me. The spider had climbed inside the ball of web and closed off the opening.
Several days later, twelve baby black spiders emerged from the cocoon. The big black spider had closed itself off in the web to give birth. Her body became the offspring’s first meal.
This was first time I had grown to love something and lost it. My father bought me the spider in order that I see life emerge from death.