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Monday, August 18, 2008

Evening in Jerusalem

This is a lovely story that was in Sunday's New York Times Magazine, and while I have yet to find a real excuse to post it, I thought I would post the link and tell you all to go read it yourselves. Here's an excerpt.
For four nights that August, we sat across from her on the couch and asked her about growing up in Zakho, her dusty hometown in northern Iraq. With my father serving as translator, she let us inside a life of a few triumphs and many miseries. Her mother died in childbirth when Miryam was a little girl, she said, leaving her to a cruel stepmother. Her father married her to a first cousin she scarcely knew. When Miryam had trouble feeding her firstborn, a girl named Rifqa, she and my grandfather gave the baby to a wet nurse. But the wet nurse disappeared, and the baby girl was never seen again. Three of Savta’s children had moved away to America, and we gathered that my grandfather, who died 13 years earlier, had grown distant long before that.

On the fourth night, we told her we couldn’t come the next day: my uncle Uri was going to take us on a tour of Arab-Israeli villages near his farming co-op up north.

“I don’t think you should go,” Savta said, flapping her hand as if shooing demons. “It’s not safe.” We didn’t understand her stridency. I supposed it was just a grandmother’s nature to worry. But when we got up to say our goodbyes, something possessed her: She pulled herself up by her walker and followed us out the door, into the hallway and all the way to the stairs. It was a journey that by rights she did not have the strength to make.

Blessings tumbled from her lips as the walker’s aluminum legs scraped against the stone floor. “May God watch over you,” she said. And then, to my wife and me: “May you have a son in nine months.” We were in the street and could still hear this determined woman calling out to us, and to God.
Read the whole thing.


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