November on a high mountain
Moshe Kowalski stood right in front of a closed window in his big office based on the 12th floor of the building. He filled the room with a cloudy thick smoke coming from his cigar while enjoying the breath-taking scenery from the window which was a masterpiece of an amazingly manicured piece of a 26 acre of land, beautifully engineered high-tech building establishments and a newly renovated rail station next to it. The renovation of the rail station brought the world of the real state business into the market because of the dramatic increase of property values.
An investment firm that bought from him a 4 acre land area of his old offices was so stunned and amazed when they learned that Kowalski purchased a 26 acre land area at the same price. No wonder he was in a hurry to sell his property in a very low price. A week later, a computer company had bought from him an acre of land for construction. He sold it at a price ten times the total price he paid for the entire lot. “When you’re on top”, he told himself, “there are millions of opportunities to be rich”..
In the last couple of years, he found himself so idle and still. He can’t find anything useful and interesting in his office anymore. In fact, his presence was not needed in the business. He then spent mostly of his time travelling around the world enjoying the comfort of his luxurious yacht. Naor , his son, had taken total control of the business as he went further and eventually drag himself into the world of communication industry in the United States and proved that talent is hereditary, although, there are times that Moshe had to help his son, behind the scenes without his’ knowing that his father’s hand was behind everything.
He sat on his desk and started to look at the picture of his son when he was small. He was so wrapped up with the memories of those days when the door suddenly opened and felt that he lost his sanity. He blinked his eyes. His illusions turned into a total shock.
“What the hell do you think you are doing?” He found himself roaring in English as the lady sways herself into the room. The small boy who was holding her hand when they entered the room, politely approached him but Moshe pushed the boy away from him.
“Why are you so mad? Did you not miss your grandson?” she replied in Romanian while pulling a chair for the boy. She sat right in front of Moshe trying to ignore his anger. She opened her purse and took out a cigarette and lighted it. She got her legs crossed while trying to blow the smoke in Moshe’s face. ”One stick of cigarette will not change anything with the stinky smell of your office”.
Moshe took a deep breath. “Julia, we had an agreement. You are not allowed to come here. You have already done enough damage. Be fair and go back to Romania”.
Julia looked at him with a very sarcastic smile and blew another set of smoke from her mouth. “It’s time for you and your son to take responsibility for the child. I love my freedom. It’s priceless. And I will never trade it over the amount of money that you are paying me,” she said while caressing Daniel’s head. Daniel pulled his head away from her. He stared at his grandfather. The excitement he had earlier was totally gone…subsided. His grandfather didn’t like him. He knew it. It was obvious.
Portrait of anger ran through Moshe’s face. He was upset. Muscles in the face began to workout. He hate people who simply drag him into a situation where there seemed to be no way out. He was helpless! He was furious.
“Ok, do you need more money? You can have more. You can have anything you want but don’t ruin Naors’ family. Take that kid with you and I will take care of everything. I will make sure that you will have everything you need and you will live like a princess all your life”.
“Mmmm…that sounds so interesting and tempting”. Julia raised eyebrows as she replied. “I have a little bit of a problem though. I met an American guy. He wants me to move in with him alone, without the kid. And I was thinking that it’s not too bad for the little boy to stay with his father or his grandfather. Don’t you think so Mr. Moshe Kowalski?
“Is there someone in your family who will agree to take care of the kid with the same condition?” Moshe ignored the sarcasm in her voice.
She smiled “Do you want to send him to hell? I for sure will go to hell if I do something like that”. She twisted her cigarette in the ashtray then got up. “Oh, you are some sort of hell actually.” She laughed and seemed to be enjoying his torture.
“Where do you think you’re going?”
“I need to go somewhere. I need some professional advice. I’m sure they will tell me what to do. After all, this is your grandson. I already have a plane ticket and I will be in a plane in two days.”
“Where would that be?” Moshe asked.
“The Department of Social Welfare”. She took out some sort of a small paper and slowly looked at him. “I have the address here.
Moshe’s nervousness did not come to Julia’s attention. He tried the hard way. “Julia, no one threatens me, you should know that.”.
“I’m sorry, this is your grandson. That’s your problem.” She took Daniel’s hand. “Say goodbye to grandpa”. She could not help but laughed, she saw a strong feeling of anxiety on Moshe’s face, but did not notice the frozen face of Daniel while looking at his grandfather as they walked out towards the door.
She got into the taxi which Moshe’s secretary had called for her and only then that she looked at Daniels’ face. He was always a very serious child. But nowhe saton the carwith his eyes towards an imaginary point across the window.
"Do not worry, everything will be fine. Honestly, I never thought that your grandfatherwould not wantto take you. If things won’t work out, I myself will take you to your dad”. But before that, we will try one more way to convince your grandfather. I know that you are upset right now, but at the end, you will see that everything will be okay and you will become happy and even happier than being with me. Daniel kept lookingoutside the window, until the cabstopped infront of the Departmentof Social Welfare. Julia headed straight to Deborah’s office, a woman withcurlyblack hair, not well-groomed, and pony-tailed with a rubber band.Juliaand Danielwaited whileDeborahwas talkingon the phone.Juliainspected Debora’seyebrows that urgently needed some twizzers, but then she concluded that there was nothing to bother – nothing can be done to improve the appearance of this woman. Deborah answered angrily to the man on the other line of the phone. Julia was so afraid that this meeting will be worst than her meeting with Kowalski and decided to make it short.
“Look, this is the grandson of Moshe Kowalski”. Julia opened in English, noticed the softness in the face of the social worker in hearing the name of Moshe Kowalski. She described the situation thoroughly in front of her and surprised to see the kindness in the face of this government official although she knew that it was just some kind of pretension.
"I understand your reference to us, but it's not within our jurisdiction. I would suggest you to contact a lawyer. Besides, you know that the grandfather is not responsible for the child, the father is. You can’t do anything against the grandfather." Deborah tried to calm down her voice, although she was shocked by the revelation.
Julia was silent. She had already prepared an alternative plan, but she had to make sure Deborah will take part in her action. "Look, I understand you don’t take care about such things, but can I just leave here a note? I'm going to fly to America in two days, and if the child will be left alone, it’s good to have some basic information about him, right? "
Deborah looked up. "You can leave me a letter, but I still suggest that it would be better if you give it to a lawyer. "
Julia had already thought about that alternative. But since she was leaving in two days, she thought that it would be best if she will hand in the letter to the social worker and not to a lawyer. Deborah took the letter from her, After all it was just a letter and it won’t hurt anyone. She looked at the skinny blonde woman heading out of her office. She told her to close the door after her, but ignored because she had already gone out. Deborah got up and locked the door. She needed to make some personal phone calls to someone, and she didn’t want to be overheard by anyone from the office. She dialed the office of Kowalski. As expected his secretary informed her that he can not answer at the moment and instead asked her to just leave a message, but Deborah insisted to wait on the line and asked her to tell him that it was an urgent call from the Department of social welfare. Indeed, just like Deborah thought, Moshe Kowalski answered. His voice seemed to be a sweet melody so pleasing to the ear. She told him about Julia's visit and the letter she left. She wanted to know what will happen to the child if her mother leaves to America, since, according to her, he was the boy's grandfather.
Moshe admitted to himself that things are out of control, but kept himself cool. "That’s what she says. Do you know how many people like her roaming around these days? She had a brief affair with my son alright and if she thinks that he is his son, there are ways to deal with it. I'm at least not the right person to address with and certainly not you. I'll seriously check on the matter and see how it goes.”
"Right now, for me, I’m just updating you, but if it will become worst, there’s a need to notify my superior.
Moshe was silent. He never thought that Julia will go to the social welfares’ office and certainly did not think to break the agreement and leave a letter. He needed to get it otherwise he is a dead man.
"What does the letter says?” He asked, trying to see if Deborah opened it and read its contents.
"I did not open it, I guess she wrote the things she told me. "
Moshe was relieved. "Listen Deborah, I’m ready to pay a visit to your office and give you my version, and it's only because I have a great respect for your work. "
Deborah was filled with a sense of belongingness towards her job. "I have meetings all day. I will be free from work at 8’oclock in the evening.”
"Do you work until late hours like these?" He said as he entered her office, which was the only office staffed at that time.
"These are not regular working hours, but phenomenal visitor like you don’t come everyday." she said, smiling at him. "Would you like some coffee? You don’t believe it, we have an espresso machine here.”
"It would be great if you could make me some coffee with whipped milk," he said hoping that it will keep her longer in the kitchenette.
"I'll be right back. "
Just as when she left and headed to the kitchenette down the hall, he grabbed her bag to look for the letter. Mixed among the papers that caught his eye was a white envelope. He opened it quickly, removed the contents and replaced it with another letter, plus a silence fee of three thousand dollars. When he heard the sound of her shoes coming, he had already managed to return and found his place. The coffee was perfect.
"Well, Mr. Kowalski, what do we do about this story of Julia?"
"I came to tell you that Daniel is not my grandson. I’m willing to do some test to prove it. I admit, there was a bond between me and Julia, for some reasons I can not tell, but between that and be a grandfather of Danielle ?..."
He stood up. "Look, you are a nice woman. It was a pleasure to meet you and I'm willing, to give any information you want to ask, anytime! By the way, what about the letter? Can we read it?”
"No, I'm sorry, not unless something will happen. It's nothing personal against you, I hope you understand. ""Yes, I understand, honestly, I really don’t care. It shouldn’t be any of my interest.
Deborah did not understand what just happened to her. She was confused. It was all about Moshe, her only role in the whole system was to make coffee. Suddenly everything seemed detached from reality. She had never been lucky from this gray and eroding job to suddenly pop up a valuable story. She thought that there was a big story here and she wanted to handle it herself, so she didn’t notify her superior
Moshe drove his car and headed to the hotel where Julia stayed, hoping that at this late night hours it would prevent passers-by to see him. He called from a pay phone and asked her to come down with the boy, to discuss her agenda, ‘there is a solution’, he told her. He noticed her approaching, without the boy. "Daniel is asleep,” she said as she got into the car, but as she tried to find the appropriate position on the seat, she felt the syringe pierced her neck and the car drove off.
The next morning, the chamber maid entered the room of Julia to clean. She found Daniel alone. She tried to talk to him in Hebrew and English, but he did not answer. After cleaning the other rooms, she went back again and found him still alone. She reported to his superiors about him and after a while he was taken under the care of the police.
Deborah was happy for the second opportunity that fall for her, she knows that the disappearance of Julia will rearrange the cards and now her hands are up high again. She hurried to call Kowalski and was surprised to discover that he was not ready to talk to her. She left him many messages again and again but he never got back to her. Feelings of frustrations and revenge filled her. The letter was the only thing she could depend to in. She opened it. The disappointment displayed in her face was indescribable. Dreams vanished in just a moment. All hopes and dreams that revolved from the letter of a poor woman, slowly reduced into a single word: "I flew to America. I ask you to find the father of my son. Letter is attached for personal information of a Romanian man and three thousand dollars that should probably help in finding his father. Deborah took the money in her pocket and tore the letter.
Daniel walked side by side with Deborah. His feet were having a hard time to stick for a fast walk. He ran but his legs couldn’t hear him. Her big palms wrapped around his fingers, and found himself being dragged as if nothing he could do to want her. He stumbled on a big stone. Deborah stopped, and looked down at him, then pulled him up so hard until his arms seemed to rupture. He tried to wipe the sand stuck to his elbow, but he failed and was left with a dirty wounded elbow. He kept on walking, one hand holding the other that held a rustling plastic bag, with white T-shirt and jeans with cuts in the knee, things he took with him in his new journey. It was a clear indication that things got rough. Though he was only five years old he had no trouble understanding that from now on life will change completely.
They stood in front of the gate, waiting for the school guard to open it for them. It was a big red gate, flanked with tall cypress trees boasting in each side that tried to make the place green and to give a fresh atmosphere and to prevent from being seen by some by-passers around. But they couldn’t hide the sense of bitterness displayed in the abandoned parking lot. Roots and weeds grew in between the asphalt slots. The guard opened the gate for them and Daniel was amazed to see a large green lawn. Deborah dragged him right into a pathway-like across the grass disregarding the granule pathway intended for walking..
She knocked at the door of the manager's office, ignoring the secretary who was sitting in the doorway, and only to realize that the manager was not in the office, then she turned to the secretary.
"Is he not here?"
"You mean the Principal?
“Of course the Principal." Deborah didn’t hide her anger. There was an expression of terror in her face, pulling out her glasses off her nose. "I don’t have all day! Go and find him for me, otherwise, I will leave this little boy here and will get off here.”
"He went to pray. It's just a matter of about half an hour."
"Half an hour!? I do not have half an hour. Why do I have to wait for a half an hour for a certain matter which doesn’t even take more than two minutes to settle?”
The secretary looked at her until she finished grumbling. She knew that the social worker was going to be surprised. The procedure of registering a child to a boarding school takes at least two hours. This particular case will take even more. She looked at the skinny little boy, standing upright and looking around, behind those bright blue eyes, and long eyelashes lay undeniable sadness and anxiety.
Deborah ordered Daniel to sit in the hall way. She was restless, walked back and forth, smoking cigarette one after the other, rubbing her hands together restlessly.
Daniel tried so hard not to meet her eyes. He already succeeded to upset her in everything he did during the last two days that he spent in her apartment. He looked at the right wing of the school and saw a paved basketball court, concrete benches and high fences built around.
On the left side of the field stood a beautiful oval-shaped building, where the windows were rounded and painted blue. Just in front of the building, stood close to the walls, were tall palm trees, and ornamental trees and colorful flowers were beautifully arranged at the base of each palm tree. Daniel saw a tall man with a large black “Kipa” ( a circular piece of thin cloth or lattice which the religious Jews wear in their head as a symbol of Godliness ) on his head coming straight to his direction. He shrunk in place, scared from the stranger.
The Principal entered into the office, and Deborah run hurriedly after him. She sat right in front of him without invitation.
"Listen Mr. Solomon, I brought a child to the boarding school. Let's arrange everything and do it quickly so that I can live a normal life. Since the disappearance of his mother, I never had a single peaceful moment.”
“Let me elaborate something for you," Solomon said with a soft penetrating voice, "This school is already fully occupied. Living rooms pre-designed for four children had already six children housed in it. There is only one bed left intended for a child that will be coming next week. So, there is no way I can accommodate this boy, though I want to. "
"But this boy has no family. I have nowhere to take him to. Not until I find a place for him…”
"That is much better. Try to look for another boarding school. After all if he has no family, there is no preference in our school which has a great demand. He paused, and when he realized that she didn’t respond, he said …"Sorry" .and stood up, indicating that the conversation was over.
Deborah bite her lips angrily. She realized that the Principal had no intention to make her life easier. But she didn’t intend to give up too. She had already made a decision. She will leave this place without the boy. "Listen, Mr. Solomon, your stories do not interest me. My job is to find a place fitted or not fitted to the child, just to get rid of him. If he won’t be accommodated here, Ziona, my boss, will ask me to do a favor again and take this boy and be with my children again and I have no intention of doing so. I come across such cases all the time. I do not have time to waste my feelings for this and certainly don’t have the strength to handle all responsibilities to host all social cases like this in my house.” Just as when she finished, she grabbed her bag and left the place. Solomon, the Principal followed her out and called her to take the child with her, but she continued to walk on the grass path. Solomon went back, he passed over Daniel, rubbed his forehead. "Give him something to eat", he asked the secretary, and went back to his office and dialed.
"Hi Ziona, Deborah, your employee, was just here. She left the boy here, even though I already explained to her that I had a problem accommodating new kids. I am begging you to send someone and get the boy back from here.
Ziona was not surprised to receive the call from Solomon. Not when she sends Deborah for such a mission like this. Daniel's case was exceptional, and only a woman like Deborah, who lacks concern for others’ feelings, was fitted to the task. "Yes, Deborah talked to me. She said that you only have one place available for a child who should be arriving next week. Put Daniel in his place. First come first served."
"You know the school. The rabbi will not agree for a non-Jew child to take the place of a Jewish child. It's not that we are racists, you know that there are also some children here who are not Jews, but they do not take anyone's place."
There was silence on the other side of the line.
“Yes, I’m here. Solomon, try maybe to look for one more place for the boy. Just one more place. The boy just lost his mother. How can I send him to Romania? You know what is going on there, orphanages are full, cemeteries are crowded and they just leave their children to starve. You must understand that if we can’t find a place to accommodate him soon, we will be forced to send him to Romania? I have to find him a place until the committee will find a way and keep him stay in the country “
"No, Ziona, do not put me into the middle of this situation. I also don’t feel good about the boy, but you have to understand that I can not give him the place intended for a child who has also his story, and not to mention the big difference that he is a Jew who came from a religious family.”
"Solomon, I'm also a religious woman, but just one look at the boy and my heart tells me not to send him back to Romania. I know that you too wouldn’t dare to do that."
Solomon took a deep breath. "I know that I'll be sorry .I'll see what I can do."
The secretary offered Daniel to sit beside her desk to eat the meal she brought him, grilled chicken, mashed potatoes, bread and fruit salad. Daniel stared at his plate then looked across the closed door of the principal's office. He hesitantly grabbed the bread and began eating. When he saw the Principal coming out, he put down the piece of bread he held on his hand.
"Orit, take him please to the preschool children’s quarter until we decide what we do," the Principal said.
The secretary smiled at Daniel, took his hand and led him to the new building, where they met Nitsa, the lady in the house.
"Hello." Nitsa bent over Daniel. His face was frozen.
"I’m Nitsa, nice to meet you. Come with me, I'll take you to your room," she said, as they slowly went upstairs. Daniel walked beside her. They got into the room where there were three built-in double beds. Nitsa offered him a bed on the lower part. "here's your bed. You'll probably prefer the upper part, just like everyone else, but it’s already been occupied."
Daniel did not look at her, he just lay the bag on the bed and sat down.
"No, do not sit down. Let's go find you some clothes."
She led him towards the storage. Although it was still undecided what to do with him, and she had not yet received any instruction or approval to give him some clothes, she could not ignore the pretty little boy who kept carrying with him the old fading bag as if there were some treasures in it. She pulled off a few clothes from the shelves and led him into the dressing room, helped him dress from time to time. For the first he smiled at her with gratitude and great satisfaction in the face as he left the storage with a big bag full of shirts and pants
“Just putthe bag inthatcloset. Don’t arrange them yet.” She preferred to speak to himin Hebrew,althoughhe did not understanda word on what she said. They went down into the playing room, where there were kindergartens.
Daniel was lying in bed. Lights off, He was scared. He wanted to cry, but he feared that it was forbidden. Last night when he slept in the basement of Debora’s house, he had been warned not to make a noise, but tonight, he could not help but cry. He stuck the lapel of his shirtin his mouth to strangle the shedding of tears in his eyes but this time, the tears were stronger than any threatening psychological hindrance.
"You can cry sweetheart, that's fine. I know that things were not easy for you lately. It has been rough,but I’m sure that after fewdaysyou will feelmuch better, and everything will be alright. I promise you. "
Nitsa's words, even if he did not understandthem, calmed him down.She did not try to stop him, but rather continuedto caress him,until he felthis eyesclosed.
* * *
Solomonwas sitting inhis office that he used forthe lastfifteen years. He didn’t know how he was going to explain to the rabbi about his decision in accommodating a christian boy instead of a boy who was supposed to arrive next week. Four children were supposed to be housed in each room. Not long ago, they added one more double bed and there was no way to put another additional bed. There was only one bed available.
The campus Rabbi called him several times, but Solomon avoided the phone calls with couples of excuses.He knew what the rabbi wanted to discuss with him- it was about the letterhe sent tothe family ofthe child, informing them that they could not accommodate him to the boarding school. It was obvious to Solomonabout the priority of theRabbi, and avoidance wascurrentlya comfortablestep. He hoped to find the right words to convince the Rabbi, who was very extreme in his opinions.The secretarycame inand informed himthat the rabbiwas again looking for him.Solomonsaw anxiety in her face. She didn’t like to lie to the rabbi, and which was right. Solomontookhis coatand intended toleave the officefor two hoursto saveher from embarrassment. He left a stammering message of his whereaboutsand rushedto the front door. Butthen reality hit himfaster thanhe thought. While preparing to leave,the rabbishowed up in his doorstep, escorted by two young Rabbis standing behind him like bodyguards.Solomon felt some uneasiness. Just a moment ago, the secretary informed the Rabbi that he was out of the office, and now he was standingright in front of him. The Rabbientered the office while he ordered his escorts with an angry gesture of his hand to wait outside.
“I just came back. I wanted to call you. There was this family that their child…” Solomon wanted to continue but the expression on the face of the Rabbi explained that he didn’t believe any single word that came out from his mouth”
“I see that you are avoiding me. Be it clear to you that you can’t get away from today’s agenda and impose the law on you. But right now, I have something more important. Would you mind to explain to me what’s going on here?”
"Look, I examined the situation of the two boys that leads me to a decision.”
“To prefer a christian kid over a Jew?”
“No! But what can I do? The social worker just left the boy here. Where will I throw him?
“Ok…I need to convene all concerns regarding this matter…But you should know that at the end, the kid will eventually out of here." The Rabbi held his beard between his thumb and forefinger trying to read Solomon’s facial expression on what he said. Seemingly, Solomon was not bothered by his warning. Sensing indifference, the Rabbi banged the table and stood up with a deep feeling of bitter anger.
"You know what, Solomon? This time you upset me. Who do you think you are anyway? You are just my personnel. You work for me and not the other way around! This kid will be out of here, that’s all! The Rabbi went out slamming the door.
Solomon went out of his office headed straight to the kindergarten, looked around trying to find Daniel but he was not on the yard. He went inside the kindergarten and there he found him sitting reading a book. Solomon took the book from his hands and began to scan page after page.
“What will I do with you?” The question was intended for himself. He felt a very deep compassion to the little boy who lost his mother just a couple of days ago. He wanted him in this boarding school. He knew that he will be fine here. But if the Rabbi will go on his decision to hold a meeting, the child will surely be kicked off here. He looked up high and prayed to God to give him any sign or clue that will lead him to the right way.
Solomon left his house that was in the school compound at early noon time, after his eyes were widely opened all night. But even as he sat in his office, the thoughts about Daniel didn’t give him rest. He criticized himself in carrying out his decision despite the Rabbi’s behavior, but he couldn’t avoid it because he knew that the Rabbi’s consideration was intolerable, since most of the money was donated to the boarding school by Friends of Israel community in exile, and most of them were not Jews.
The secretary passed him a phone call that detached him from his thoughts. Solomon paused a bit. He was afraid that it was a call from the rabbi and he decided not to answer it. A second later the secretary entered his office, "That was from the Yashiva( a place where Jewish people study the Bible) of Rabbi Zohar, they are asking you to answer it right now.
"I'll call them in a few more minutes, " Solomon tried to delay the end. He knew what the rabbi wanted to discuss with him, he didn’t have any solution that will settle the point of view of the rabbi. On the contrary, the sleepless nights he had gone through strengthen his decision to keep Daniel in the boarding school.
“I figured through his voice that it was very urgent.” The secretary convinced him to answer.
Solomon hesitantly picked it up. "Yes?"
"Are you sitting?" Shimon, the Rabbi’s secretary asked.
“Yes! What happened?” Solomon got himself ready.
"Come to the ‘Yashiva’ immediately. The honorable rabbi had a car accident on his way to the ‘Yeshiva’ in Benei Brak. He died. Come here immediately.”
The words were stuck in his mouth. The secretary called his name again and again, but Solomon was not able to talk.
"Well, I understand that you're upset. Get in here, everybody is already here. We will go together to the Rabbis’ house.
Solomon was shocked, he was afraid that his prayers were answered. They say, "Warn your prayers, they may come true.” and Solomon prayed for something to happen that would keep Daniel in the campus. And his prayers were answered in a way he never thought or would have wanted to happen. Now he was shocked himself. He felt that he had murdered the rabbi.
“Is everything okay?”the secretary asked. At that moment she noticed the pale face of Solomon and rushed to give him water.
"Sit down, Orit", he said, and she sat right across him."What happened?" She asked again, worried.
"Rabbi Zohar died this morning in a car accident. "
Orit was shocked.
"Orit, I'm sorry for leaving you in this kind of condition, but I need to go. " He got up with a coherent decision, passed through the kindergarten. He felt that his guilt burdened his sorrow. He looked for Daniel and found him again reading a book.
"Pack up his things. I will take him to Zionas’ office.” He told Nitsa with determination.
"Is the boy leaving?" She asked sadly.
“Yes! And I’m not going to talk about this. Rabbi Zohar died in a car accident and I am going to keep his last quest from me, to get Daniel out of here.”
Nitsa was shocked. She sat.
‘When did this happen?”
“This morning but I heard it just now.”
Nitsa cried. “See how many orphan children he left in here, how can someone so righteous like him dies? It’s unbelievable!”
She kept talking while Solomon sat right across and shared the grief with her. When she calmed down a bit, she turned to him.
“We are in the state of grief right now. Why don’t we wait for one more day just to give ourselves some time to think, maybe it’s just a coincidence. It can mean a lot of things, you know.” Nitsa tried to take back her inference.
“No Nitsa, I already made a decision. And don’t call the death of a Rabbi a coincidence.” Solomon scolded her.
“That’s right. But Daniel is just a small boy” Nitsa remembered the promise she gave to Daniel the night before, though he didn’t understand it, but for her, it’s a promise. She decided to do everything she can to keep him in the boarding school.
“I don’t understand. If the Rabbi is not with us anymore, why can’t we keep the boy here? Who will apprehend us?”
Solomon was shocked by her words. Provision of things when measured, where the fate of one person positively affects the destiny of another, was unacceptable for him. It was even some kind of cruelty but he didn’t want to comment on her behavior. This was all about his fault. “My prayers killed him.” He said with a soft voice as he closed his eyes.
“I don’t think that you have the authority but with all due respect, all I asked is to give your thoughts an extension of another day. Whatever you decide tomorrow will be acceptable for me"
Solomon went out angrily from the kindergarten. Nista gave him a hard time. She reminded him that whether the rabbi is alive or dead, still had to find a solution for Daniel, but this time he had to find the solution within him. He left the campus and headed to the house of the rabbi, who was already crowded with visitors, rabbis, students and neighbors. Solomon looked at the orphans, one was of Daniel's age, among them was the rabbi's wife, crying. She kept asking who will take care of them now that their father was gone. Solomon heard an inner voice within him, answered her question: "ME”, referring to Daniel.
Life in the campus became a routine. Daniel did well in school and was one of the most brilliant students. His accomplishments were high in all levels. Solomon was so proud of him. He was even guilty from the sin of arrogance when he vested to himself some part of the achievements of Daniel, who became like his son in his house. Daniel managed to endear himself to all those who knew him and everyone who came in contact with him. Every day he would sit with younger students and help them with their home works, or assist Solomon’s secretary to do the job she did not like to do - filing papers. And he even had enough time left to deal with his favorite hobby – taking care of animals located in the animal corner. Animals were his favorites. Among them was a dog she found on the street that turned to be the house dog in the campus. "The dog of the boarding school”, they called him.
Daniel's life routine was diversified during his fourth grade, when Neta joined the boarding school. He saw her for the first time, two months after the school had started, as he passed by near the dining room. She was sitting on the grass, near the sidewalk, her hands wrapped around her knees. Brown skinned with expressive hazel eyes full of undeniable sadness that never seemed to leave them. A pointed chin, but full of softness, small lips, upper lip was a bit thicker than the lower, which gave her a constant smile. Curly hair, but unorganized, that made her look less beautiful than she really was. She looked pretty sad and detached from her environment. Daniel was reminded of his first day at the campus, his difficulty in those times: On one side was the thought of being separated from his mother and on the other side was the struggle to find an alternative place to the house he lost. He wondered what was behind the story of this girl, what brought her to this place and what was going on with her now. He entered into the dining room with excitement. The girl's appearance gave him a sense of happiness. He finished his meal quickly, and happy to find her still sitting in the same place and even in the same position. He discovered that she was doing it almost daily. He tried to talk to her classmates and asked them about her, but was surprised to find out that no one liked her, because she was distant and she couldn’t get along with other students.One time he got the courage to approach her. "Are you waiting for someone?"
She looked at him, her face was full of tears, "I'm waiting for my aunt. She promised to come to visit me. "
"When is she supposed to arrive?" He asked with curiosity.
He wanted to know what made her sit everyday and wait for her aunt, who apparently had not arrived. He never saw her with her aunt.
Neta put her hands on her knees. "She said that if she will find time, she would come on Monday or Tuesday, so I'm waiting for her on Mondays and Tuesdays. "
"I think you should come and join us, and if she will arrive, she will find you or she will look for friends who can call you. There's not much place in here for you to be lost, " he tried to make her laugh.
Neta continued to sit and didn’t bother to answer him.
"Then it would be fun if I will keep you some company and we’ll wait together.” He continued his attempts to talk to her. Neta shrugged her shoulders as a sign that she didn’t care.
Finally, when Daniel met Neta's aunt, he admitted to himself that she was very nice. She always surprised Neta by her visit. Her closeness with her aunt pushed her away from her friends. Daniel thought that Netas’ destiny was one of the best among others in the boarding school. Though her parents were disabled due to injury, she still had a fairly supportive aunt. She always gave her a large supply of candies and money though there was nowhere to spend it except the small kiosk that was donated by a large food manufacturer where sweets were sold to the children in the campus at a very affordable price. Daniel wondered why no one from the family was willing to raise her at home. But he was happy for that though.
A year later, Neta was still pretty detached from the campus, but her relationship with Daniel grew stronger. Oftentimes they would sit on the grass and play cards. Over the time they find themselves sharing their life story. Daniel told Neta about his mother, who was gone to America and left him all alone in this crazy world. Because of that, Neta felt free to share with him the beautiful memories of her life she used to have. Until that day when she was informed that her parents were seriously injured in a car accident that lead to mental disability. “They talk, they walk and they cook together. But they were seriously hit in the brain that lead them to mental disorder. They are no longer like before,” she wiped the tears falling down her face. Daniel looked at her, and saw the pain and suffering she was going through.
"Do you have brothers?"
Neta pulled out the grass she sat on. It was clear that the question caused her pain. It took her a while to answer. "I have two brothers, one is a three year old and the other is in the first grade. I haven’t seen them in the last few months. I miss them. Before the accident, we used to go for a walk during Saturdays with our parents. Now, they don’t seem to be my brothers anymore. My little brother doesn’t even know me.” Tears fell down her cheek. "They are living with another family. "
"How about you?" Daniel asked, "Why don’t they adopt you as well?"
Neta was a bit silent . "They said that I am big enough. They were not into older kids. The Department of Social Welfare tried to find a family for me, but no one wants me anyway.
"Are you mad at your parents?"
“Yes, I’m mad at my mother too. I really don’t know what happened to her and why did she simply disappear. When I was small, I used to look at the picture beside my bed and often asked for her forgiveness. I thought she left because I was not good enough. I prayed so hard and promised to be the best little boy in the world. But she never came back. I have been through lots of sleepless nights. I cried a lot…I was so mad at her.” He frowned, but then he added with a smile. "But I am better now. I am already used to it.”
“Are you still mad at her?” Neta asked.
“Me too, just a little bit. Everybody have normal parents except me. I have disabled parents that I can’t even talk to them about a thing, that because of them. I needed to stay in this stinky hole that I am now.”
Daniel was silent. He didn’t understand what was so special about Neta that made him so attached and stay with her rather than any other girl in the campus. But he knew that the day Neta arrived to the boarding school, things became more interesting. She became the closest person to him. He used to visit Solomon on holidays but ever since he came to know Netas’ aunt, he was always invited to spend Saturdays and holidays with them. He and Neta became explicit friends until the end of the sixth grade.
The graduation ceremony and the farewell party was about to begin. The atmosphere was grooving and pleasant. At the entrance of the campus were two candles placed inside brown bags. The view of the ground was credited to the colored lights that were deployed around. There were tables decorated with gold-embroidered maps Foods that were donated by some large food companies were boasted and arranged on the table with a design that would embarrass a five star hotel First guests who arrived early that evening were so stunned and amazed on the exaggeration that were served on the tables.
Few days before the party, when invitations were sent to the families of students, Daniel recalled his visit to his grandfathers’ office with his mother. Daniel was having a second thought if it was time to call his grandfather and ask him to attend the graduation ceremony.
He knocked on the open door of Solomon’s office.
Daniel sat in front of him. “I thought of calling my grandfather to invite him to the graduation ceremony.”
"I think it's a great idea, " Solomon said, handling him the phone, "I will check his phone number on the information.”
"No, not now, I'm a little scared that he wouldn’t recognize me, I don’t know…"
"You will never know if you will not try.”
Mixed emotions of concerns accompanied by hope wrapped up his whole being when he dialed the operator and asked the home number of Kowalski Moshe. His hands were shaking while he wrote down the phone numbers. He didn’t understand if the shaking was caused by his nervousness or it could have been the excitement to meet his grandfather – a family relative.
"Hello, Hello? " it was a voice of a woman on the other line, but he was tongue-tied. He closed the phone, and after ten seconds, he found the courage to try and call again, hoping that this time he will be able to talk. "May I speak to Moshe?" He found himself talking.
"Moses is not around. Who wants him?" The woman's voice was impatient.
"Do you know how will I may be able to contact him?" He asked weakly, swallowing.
"He's not in the country. Who are you?"
Daniel wondered a little bit if she was his grandmother, then he hung up the phone, He was upset that he called too late.
"What happened?" Solomon asked.
"He's abroad. "
Solomon sadly stared at Daniel. "Never mind. He will remain to be your grandfather even after the party. Try it some other time.” He looked at Daniel's disappointed face. There were few times when he heard Daniel telling his friends that Kowalski was his grandfather. There was even one time that he heard him telling them about his visit to his grandfather’s office together with his mother. That was the first time that Solomon realized the true story.
Daniel stood at the stage beside his friends who, with enthusiasm, performed their role on the show that they have been working on for three months. He did not find anything exciting playing his role for strangers with joyful smiles on their faces that were not intended for him. He was not a child of anyone from the crowd. No one will come and pick him up to bring him home. And he will be forced to remain and stay in the boarding school until the opening of the next school year. Among the spectators of the show, he noticed Neta's aunt, a reminder that he will not see Neta anymore on the next school year. She will be moving to another city with her aunt - a reminder that he will therefore be alone. It was not enough that he failed to start a new connection with his grandfather but he was also losing the only and most significant relationship that he had.
During that summer vacation he was able to visit Neta’s aunt a couple of times. One time Neta and her friends came to visit him but he had already felt the distance. The image of a school girl that Neta used to have had already been turned to a complete city girl. With all the accessories attached, she looked more like a woman than a little girl he used to know. She wore clothes that looked a little bit mature for her age as if he was also a part of her childhood that she took off from her. On rare occasions when she visited him, together with her friends, she was in a hurry to part with him to go to cinema and some places, reminding him that there were things that do not pass through him but rather, they pass over him.
One morning he saw Solomon approaching towards him, with a smile on his face, which was not common for him. Solomon loved Daniel so much, but he never externalized it. Daniel presumed that Solomon did not want the other children to feel that he had a special relationship with him.
"Daniel, I have wonderful news." Solomon tapped his shoulder. "Get dress, I will be waiting for you in the car. I want to show you something."
Daniel tried to think what news could it be, and what was so important that he wanted to show him. He tried to ask, but Solomon said that he will explain it in the car. He got dressed quickly.
"We're going to see your new school, Solomon break the news, Pulling out Daniel from the reality and alienate him from the opportunity that awaited him –to meet his new friends in the new boarding school. But Solomon was busy in his world that he didn’t notice the expression of disappointment in Daniel’s face.
“You are going to continue to live in the boarding school for the next six years and you will study in an external school everyday.
Daniel’s head change from channel to channel. A moment ago, he was informed that he will not be moving with most of his friends to another boarding school and was disappointed. And now he was told that he will be attending external school. He tried to internalize the news and believed them. There was a big smile in his face. Trace of disappointment that were scattered in his face a while ago suddenly vanished. Going out from the boarding school everyday and spend half of the day to roam around because he himself is finally a free man was for sure great news!
Days and months had passed and his relationship with Neta was slowly deteriorating. They tried to call each other several times but the relationship was not the same anymore from what they had when they were still both living in the same boarding school. The distance was a great obstacle in their relationship. However, his relationship with his colleagues grew stronger. Often times during holidays, he was always invited by his classmates and saw lifestyles that were very different in what he used to have. In the boarding school, everybody was needy. On holidays, everybody had a problem on going back home where life was so complicated and that they just prefer to stay in the campus. However, his classmates have normal families and found himself being a guest in their houses and tried to stand those times that they asked him to host them in his room. He couldn’t believe that they envy him on the freedom that he had. He would have traded with them.
Solomon was so happy to see that Daniel was able to adapt himself to the new environment and became a leader there, too, just as he was in the boarding school. He knew that Daniel can deal in every situation that hit him no matter what. He saw unique features and high-quality drive from him that will always stand out among his friends.
When Daniel finished high school, he had to go and bid goodbye to his friends He was so sad that he can’t join the army like them, not just to find himself a place to live in for three years, but he also didn’t have citizenship. He walked three of his friends until they got in to the army bus. They looked at him smiling through the window, “How fun for you to sleep in your bed tonight while we are going to work our ass off.”
In the evening, when he returned to his room in the old central bus station in Tel Aviv, he lay on bed while watching TV. A fifteen-inch TV set on top of a loose chair. “What a stinky hole!” A spark of joy kindled in his heart as he recalled this catchphrase of Neta. He looked at last Saturday’s paper. For the first time, he realized that his grandfather owned a yacht in the marina in Tel Aviv. It was a yacht with three decks, a length of twenty-four meters, with an estimated worth of ten million dollars. Next to the picture of the Yacht was another picture of his grandfather and his only son, Daniel’s father. His mother never talked about his father. She talked mostly about his grandfather. This was the first time he saw his father's image. He cut the picture from the newspaper and put it on the table. He liked their closeness in the picture. Since then, Daniel adopted a new runway. From his work, he passed by the Marina and from there he will head straight to his room in south Tel-aviv. He felt that he always seemed to be always captivated by magic every time he passed by and looked at his grandfathers’ boat. He thought that good life is within his reach. Perhaps, maybe after all, at some point, there was a glimmer of hope….some hope of diversity in his life.Daniel tried to picture the meeting between him and his grandfather. How things will be said to each other. He watched the seagulls sitting calmly above the water after sailing probably from a stinky zone. This was his life - one dark side and the other glow bright
* * *
It was one sunny winter day, the water glamorously roar, creating strokes that drifted in the shallow water waves. Daniel stepped on the deck and took off his shirt which was a discomfort in the winter sun. He lay on a concrete bench, allowing, without recession, to feel the tender touch of the sun that soothed and relaxed every cell of his body. He did not feel how long he lay until a shivering winter cold woke him up from his sleep. He was taken by surprise when he found out that it was already dark. The darkness was illuminated by the occasional flashing of the beaming light coming from the spotlight. The poles of the ships seemed to be embedded in the dark sky, pleasant to the cold wind breeze that produced a pleasant metallic sound that came from the poles. Daniel put on his shirt and about to go home. Suddenly he noticed for the first time the light coming from his grandfather's yacht. It had been eight months that he was visiting here for almost every day and this was the first time he saw the lights on. He entered into the dock and saw an old man that looked like the man in the newspaper, standing at the back and a cigar stuck in his mouth. The cold evening did not deter the man. Daniel felt a wild and reckless drive coming from within. He stepped on the dock and entered the yacht with apprehension, but with a feeling that he had always been there..
"Hello, I'm Daniel." He reached out his grandfathers’ hand.
The man looked at him momentarily confused. A second later his face became pale. He recognized Daniel "What are you doing here? Who gave you the permission to get in?" His eyes were full of anger.
"Do not you recognize me?" He asked with dismay.
"Get out of the boat immediately, now! " Moshe Kowalski continued while he held Daniel's arm and dragged him out.
"I'm your grandson, the son of Julia ..." Daniel tried. He believed that a terrible mistake was happening and that his grandfather will immediately realize his mistake. Moshe wanted to shout, or raise his voice and throw him into the water, but he also did not want that the existence of his grandson would be known by anyone.
"I don’t have a grandchild, do you hear that? I do not have a grandson, and I do not know any Julia. Get out of here right now, now!" he said in a droning sound while sending him a horrible look. Daniel stood at the dock where he was thrown, shocked. He had no doubt that his grandfather was not wrong, he knew exactly who he was.
"Why are you standing like a lumber? I told you to go away now!, " Moshe Kowalski yelled, "Go back from where you came from, or I will throw you out of here." He turned around and entered into the yacht, closing behind the big glass doors.
Daniel kept on standing. His feet were nailed to the floor.
‘You have a grandson. He's here’, he murmured. The belief that accompanied him through these years, which gave him strength and hope, was just like a bombshell that exploded in his face. He heard the cries of the sky, thunder after thunder, asking him to leave the place, if not, rain pours and strike him with sharp stabs in the face. It was so cold. Cold and pain in his heart were like sticks hammered into his naked body. There were tears in the corners of his eyes and threatened to break out. The rain bathed him and submerged all the way through his bones. The freezing cold was nothing compared to the cold from the inside, the loss, and the idea that he was all alone in this world. ‘Your grandfather is Moshe Kowalski, a very rich man’. For the first time he was angry at her mother. He was ready to forgive her of abandoning him but couldn’t forgive her on telling him about his grandfather.
The next day he woke up, still stressed out from last night incident that left a cloud over his head. All that happened that day will be forgotten and will pretend as if nothing happened and only the shadows will remain. It was the only way he can move on with his life. He could no longer rely on his hopes. They vanished. Now everything depends on him. He hoped for some changes in his life.
Abner, his friend at work, observed him all through the day.
"You are always silent, but today it's worse than ever.” Daniel smiled, the word 'worse' explained the thought of Abner about his general behavior. At first, Abner thought that Daniel was a hater, but when Daniel became involved in helping him in difficult tasks, he learned to like him. He got angry with Daniel of not finding a more convenient and stable job than working in buildings. "It's not your level. You're a smart guy. You can find a job that suits your mind." He talked to Daniel now and then. "I’m talking to u just like my son. Find another job for you!”
The same day, Daniel felt the need to invite Abner for a beer. When they parted, he noticed a surged of immigration police at the bus station. His outer look was not like any other Israeli. He lost the special certificate issued to him by the Interior Ministry. That was what he needed. He decided to go in a longer way and not to the exposed area. He was careful to cling to the edge of the street so he could find a shelter in case he will be spotted by the police.Finally he made it until he got into his room and throw himself to bed. He felt that mental distress coincided with physical expression.
Moshe Kowalski sat in his office, restless. Daniel's surprise visit to the yacht forced him to do anything to get rid of him as soon as possible. He did not understand how a child, who visited his office at five, remembered that Julia talked about his grandfather. He felt a feeling of regret that he sympathized on the life of the child during the moment of weakness. Julia's disappearance succeeded, and didn’t raise suspicion in the eyes of the people. Daniel, however, remained a bit of a problem. As long as he was in Israel, he was a threat to him. He must find a way to get him out from the country.
Daniel's address had already been informed to him by the office of inquiry, and all that was left is to call the Interior Minister Avraham Gross who owed him a lot. Moshe Kowalski gave financial support to some Yeshiva that was connected to some religious political parties and now it’s payback time.
Abraham was surprised to receive a call from Moshe Kowalski. This was the most frightening moment for a public servant- payback time. Abraham knew that if Kowalski called, it was a sign that he will give him an unpleasant task.
"What can I do for you, Mr. Kowalski?"
"I want to talk about some issues that really bother me lately. You know, I am a man who loves his country, and sometimes I see things from here that you do not see from there.” Moses spoke in a slow and serious tone, as if he wanted to strongly emerge things into Abraham's head.
"You might want to come to me to the office and talk about the issue peacefully?
Abraham preferred a telephone conversation. If he was going to do something illegal, or to close corners, it would be best if less people will see him rubbing shoulders with Kowalski. "It's okay, you can tell me the things on the phone. If I can help, I would love to do it. "
Moses was pleased that the Interior Minister was a religious man. He thought that he could go along with him easier than with a secular minister. "I just want to wake your attention on a particular subject. You know how many contributions I donate to the Yeshiva. This is not just my personal preference. Behind this, it stands a strong ideology, but this is not the time to explain it. After all, there are many non-profit organizations or events that seem more important than contributions to the congregation.” Moses took a pause, trying to think how to move things without making Abraham feels that he had a personal touch on what he was going to discuss. "Until now I did not ask anything and I'm not going to ask. I have everything I need but still something bothers me. I'm not happy about the foreign workers in Israel. This is some kind of idolatry. It is not right that we hire foreign workers to employ them just to pay less. The contractors are the only one who will gain the profit, believe me.There is ahugeunemployment. Peoplecan’t findemployment because, the contractors, or otherkibbutzim, wantto pay less. Do not tell methat foreign workersdo the jobsthat Israeliswould not do. Israelisdo not dothesejobsjustbecause theyare labeled withforeign workers. In addition to that, do you know how much foreign money they are pulling out from the country? And the worst of all is the story of mix marriage. And this is actuallythe issueI wantedto talk to youabout.” Moshe paused a bit. " Agood friend of mine, a religious man, is sick for severalweeks already.Hisdaughteris dating a foreign worker. He is a guy who is not serious and a drinkerwho wantsonlyherfather'smoney. Iwill not give you the details to protect the identity of my friend.ButI am afraidthat ifwe do not put an end to this story,he will geta heart attack.I hate toask you, but I want you to get this foreign guy out of the country. The girlwill bedevastated for a few daysbut youwill saveher family."
"So what do you want from meactually?"Abraham asked.
"All I ask, is to delete his informationfrom your computer and I’ll worry on getting him out of the country. Don’t worry, this guy has a big and supportive family in Romania, he won’t suffer from this.”
Abraham was happy that the conversation he was afraid of was all about deporting a foreign worker from the country. In fact mix marriage also worried him and he would be happy to do his best to prevent it, and if this should satisfy Moshe Kowalski, then he was blessed.
"I am happy to know that you have strong opinions on the subject so close to my heart, I will be happy to get the details of the guy to help the family,” Abraham said with a feeling of relief. He jot down Daniel's name and address.
"I thank you for bringing this to my attention and for opening my eyes. I'll talk to the Head of Police, and will worry to clean the streets especially the potential groom. Trust me, in a week, the guy will be out of here.” Abraham closed the conversation with Kowalski and hurried to do the job which was given to him.
The next day Moses Kowalski donated several thousands of dollars to the Yeshiva, headed by the brother of Abraham Gross. After two days he saw the arrests on television. Extensive operation was just a smoking screen to the real goal, the deportation of Daniel
Daniel saw on TV, the reports of arrests and raids by the Immigration Police. In recent days he noticed that there was a higher danger in south Tel Aviv, and realized that the invasion of immigration officers were going to be intense for a long time.
He decided to take a work off to go to the interior ministry office and get a new certificate and replace the old one that he lost. But in the morning when he got down, he was taken right away by a police van that was parked near his house. He cursed himself. If he went to work that day, he would have gone early and doubted if he would have found a police car near his house. He felt it again, that every time he was up for something, pops up another that would disrupt his plans. He was aware that without any identification card, he was in danger at least until they will check and will realize that he was a legal resident.
“Papers please, " the policeman asked him solemnly.
"I lost my card and I’m just on my way to the Interior Ministry. "
The officer looked at him mockingly. He already knew those stories. "You live here?"
"Yes, on the third floor, " Daniel said.
"How old are you?" The officer continued to ask and verify some things.
"Wait here. "
Daniel was hoping to convince the police to justice because of the fact that he had no foreign accent. He noticed one of the policeman exchanging things with another police officer, who responded with a clever smile. The other policeman approached Daniel and asked him to get into the car. Suddenly he heard a voice of a woman asking them to join the ride. Eight years had passed but he could never go wrong. Her voice remained almost the same.
"Neta?" he asked with half hesitation.
Neta fired an automatic scream."Daniel, what are you doing here? "
The two officers looked at each other, wondering. They were bothered about the flow of things. "You know him?" wandered one of them.
"Of course I know him, he was a friend of mine for few years. What are you doing here in the car?"
"They arrested me for illegal residency.”
Netta laughed, "Come on, let him go. Are you crazy?" She mocked. "Come on, get out from the car. Tell me, don’t you know your job? You just arrest people in the middle of the street as simple as that?” She grabbed Daniel’s hands out of the car and went to a small coffee shop across the street. “Crazy.” she murmured.
Daniel was happy to the lifesaver, what else could be better than seeing Neta. He loved her even after eight long years had passed. He sat in front of her. He was looking on the upper prominent lip again. It was a slight impairment to perfect her lips, but for him, it added a lot to the words coming out from her mouth. He looked at her and was thrilled when she told him that she joined the police force a year ago. He was also elated when she told him about her parents that were not shouting anymore, just like before. In the middle of laughter, she revealed to him about the chemical mixture… the sedatives that she dripped everyday in their cup of coffee. That was how she bought the serenity of the house except for the first time that she put too much that sedated them for two days.
Her laugh conquered him. He did not want her to stop talking. But she stopped as she waited to tell him about his grandfather. Whether he contacted him? Daniel looked at the coffee cup in front of him, his eyelashes blocked his eyes. He played gently on the glass. "It’s interesting that I met you one week after I visited him,
"Well?" she urged him.
"He threw me out. He said he is not my grandfather.” Neta looked at him in astonishment. Awkward smile lay in her lips.
"Drop it "She took his hand,
"Based on your reaction, I understand that it's a long story. It’s not good to start it now. It hurts me to leave you in this situation, you'll probably want to talk about it, but I need to get back on duty. I’m getting late. Maybe you want to drop by in our house tomorrow it will be nice if you can join us for a Friday meal so that we will be able to talk about the things we have been through for the past eight years.”
For Daniel, there were no more other interesting things to do than meeting Neta. He looked at his watch. There was still time to go to the Interior Ministry to do the things that were interrupted. After waiting for one long hour, he was entertained by a nice clerk but she was not able to find his information from the computer.
“This can’t be happening, I had an ID but I lost it.” he insisted.
The clerk did everything she can. She entered his details again and again. She even called her boss in the main office in Jerusalem but failed. She shocked her head with a feeling of sympathy and crumpled her lips.
“Sorry, I don’t know what happened but you don’t exist.”
Daniel held his head. Nothing goes right anymore. He got up and thanked the clerk for her effort.
The next day, he got up early in the morning. He knew somehow that he needed to take care of the things regarding his ID. At six and a half in the morning he could be calmed. Immigration police won’t work during such hours. That same day he worked vigorously. The fact that he was invited at Neta;s house gave him energy and enthusiasm. Time flew quickly, and he was glad to lay down in bed after a long day of work and fall asleep without any worries or thoughts. He was awakened by a loud banging of the door. At the entrance were two police officers dressed in a civilian suit. "You're under arrest for illegal residency." Daniel could not endure anymore. There was no way he could defend himself or even to speak for himself. He was helpless. He remembered his grandfather's threat, and presumed that his hands were the ones driving his life. For the first time, he gave up his destiny. He felt that the he was at the end of his rope. He felt defeated, cheated and humiliated. He didn’t even have the desire to call Neta, thus ,actually left her expecting and preparing. She asked for some recipes from her friends to impress him. She borrowed a table cloth to cover the worn old table. Although she knew that Daniel’s condition was worst than hers, she was still bothered to the appearance of her house, poverty reflected in every corner. She warned her parents not to fight and just to make sure she dripped a small dose of sedatives.
She was so excited waiting for the arrival of Daniel. Every little sound in the house led her across the door, tempted to believe that those were doorbells. She imagined a pretty face that will show up in the doorsteps, which appear more mature and pretty to her than what she remembered yesterday. This was enough to overwhelm her with joy and feel some rattling wings of butterflies in the stomach. In the last couple of years, she met quite a few men, but they all bounced off and fled away just after they met her parents. She was sure that Daniel won’t be bothered from them. It was not only because of the fact that she knew him but it was because of the connection they had that nothing can break it apart.
She looked at herself in the mirror, pleased with the reflection, and was willing to forgive herself for the terrible waste when she bought a special dress and an expensive shoes for the event. She straightened her hair and hoped that Daniel would love it more than the curls.
It was seven o’clock, the time they agreed to meet. Daniel still did not arrive. Neta believed that he will be a little bit late. Time passed and he did not show up. She realized that the person close to her soul was a disappointment. He took advantage of her just to get out from the dead end when he was stuck with the police. But just as when the danger was gone, he was gone too. Withoutו much desire, she joined her parents that were sitting on the table.
“What happened? Is he not coming?” her mother asked
“Don’t you see that he’s not here? Why are you asking?” her husband nagged at her.
‘Here we are’, Neta thought. ‘As if I don’t have enough on my head’.
“Stop fighting or I will get up from the table!”
“It’s not me, it’s your father,” the mother defended.
Neta got up from the table, irritated and went to her bed. She heard her mother yelled at her.
“What are you angry at? It’s not our fault that he didn’t come!” She continued to talk. Neta covered her head with a blanket and fall into self-pity. Who needs a woman with crazy parents anyway? Even if she will find a man who will agree to go with her, one pretty fight of her parents will take him away from her.
Rest of the story soon