Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Part 1 - Geula

It was sometime during the first three years of arriving in Israel. idon't know exactly when that Savtah, my grandmother, introduced me to Geula, who would later introduce me to her 20 year old daughter, Liat - my cousin.
I walk into Savtah's apartment and immediately see a woman, sitting on a chair, with wavy locks, with hospital and a scrubbed forehead that shone of moisturizer

"Ah, Dorit" Unlike Savtah's Iraqi accent, Geulah really enunciated the "r" sound of my name. My name sounded just like everybody's else's - Israeli and plain.

She sounded suspiciously chirpy but friendly and stood up to greet me and have a closer look.

I hesitantly got up - the tone and accent of her voice was outside the "Iraqi" tribe. For one, her skin was much blushier and lighter than Savtah and not half as wrinkled and pretty.

Ah, Geula.

Your blue eye - how I curiously watched it move up, down and all around as if it had a life of its own. Your other eye looked straight at me. Symbolically, I could be half-funny, witty and not tell you everything I was thinking because I thought you couldn't see well.

"Yesh li bat b'gil shelach - sh'ma Li'at, I also have a daughter whose name is Liat."

What other treasures and secrets was Savtah hiding from me? I knew Savtah had a lot of brothers and sisters, but I never really met any of them.

"Now, let me get a look at you - ze bat shel Ahron. You're Ahron's daughter.

"Ah, bat shel Ahron."

"At m'artzot habrit - you're from the United States."

"ken, yes," I say.

"V'ma at osah kan? - and what are you doing here?"

"I'm just passing through Givatayim. It's been a while since I've been here."

V'efo at gara?"


"Ah, kibbutz. Yoffi. V'yesh lach haverim shama? And you have friends there?"

"Ken, yesh li haverim."

"V'ma at osa ba tzavah? And what do you do in the army?"

"Ani b'Nachal - I'm in the Nachal Movement."

"Im od olim hadashim - with other immigrants."

Geula tilts her head even more at a slight in order to full digest this new American cousin who has miraculously appeared at her sister's apartment.

All the while, Savtah is eyeing me as if we are an anticipated match made in heaven.

I'm waiting for Geula to initiate a meeting with Liat, but instead, she fires more questions.

I look at Savtah's face as if to say, "Mercy! Mercy!"

I look again at Geula' face. But it's now Savtah's I only see. Maybe it's better this way.

Geula wasn't there in 2007 when I visited Savtah for the last time before we left for the States. I went down Katznelson street to the corner where I would walk all the way down pass the Tel-Aviv highway to Arlozorov street and catch the 842 or the 845 bus back up north.

There was a time when I tingling with excitement to meet Liat. The fact that I had such good chemistry with Liat made me feel like I didn't feel like an outsider anymore. I had a best friend!

That was at a time when I had cut off communication with Geula - she was too gossipy; the excitement of being together with Liat had worn off.

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