Saba is leaving Addis Ababa after her first visit to her homeland. She brought a suitcase full of items from America to give to her relatives and now they want her to bring items home. The suitcase serves as a conduit, "an empty suitcase opened up a rare direct link between two worlds...," in an effort for relatives to be remembered by those who have moved away, "...she didn't want her grandchildren to forget about her, a fear she must bear, living so far away for so many years with only limited lines of communication."
Saba feels as though she's failed at learning how to navigate her home country. She cannot even cross the busy street at Meskel Square without using a taxi. "All month Saba had failed almost every test she'd faced, and though she'd seized one last chance to see if this trip had changed her, had taught her at least a little of how to live in this culture, she'd only ended up proving her relatives right: she wasn't even equipped to go for a walk on her own."
Saba's suitcase is ten kilos too heavy and she needs to leave for the airport; her relatives are making cases for why their particular gift must be taken to America. Saba eventually decides to empty her clothes from the first suitcase and allow her relatives to fill it up as well with the items they want to go to their relatives in Seattle. It's poignant. She solves an issue that gives her relatives sweet thoughts and memories as she had been unintentionally insulting and couldn't speak Amharic very well.
The story is written in third-person POV and simple past tense. It's about eleven pages long and takes place on the last day of Saba's month long visit. There's virtually no backstory. It's a very nice story showing the difficulties of belonging, remembering, and longing.
"The Suitcase" by Meron Hadero was first published in the fall 2015 issue of The Missouri Review and then included in the 2016 edition of The Best American Short Stories.