Tel Aviv Diary July 16-20, 2008 - Karen Alkalay-Gut
July 16, 2008
Just to make sure we were right all along, we turned on the radio in the morning and heard a few sentences of broadcast about the prisoner exchange. It was enough.
Still, Ezi said after the long silence, we've had worse deals with them in the past.
Let's get the living one back and then get down to the business of defence and of peace.
July 17, 2008
There are always funerals going on somewhere
Even if you never knew the people
When they were alive
in the fresh grave
slowly being covered in earth
is a part of yourself.
Perhaps because I was reluctant to let go of a semester so full of trials and tribulations I found myself quoting an old poem of mine to my class:
"Finish eating," my grandmother
would urge her children
hoping to clear the table
for the next meal. But they
would laugh, "Finish?"
and nibble their bread.
"When you've finished eating,
Suddenly it reminded me of a poem I wrote about in these pages long ago, well five years ago. It is a Palestinian song for children with hand motions I heard long before that goes like this:
If it rains
Iíll go to Grandmotherís
Sheíll make me
A big omelet.
Iíll eat it
And go to sleep
And wake up hungry.
Iíll eat it
And go to sleep
And wake up hungry
how similar the grandmothers and the children are.
July 18, 2008
Now what would happen if we could get a grandmother to run for president?
The first thing for sure is that i would make sure everyone gets enough to eat, a good doctor, and a proper education in how to behave, right? Then I would tell everyone to play nice and make sure they listened to me. There are a few political leaders I would put into a corner until they thought about what they were doing to others, and a few more I would get some remedial help for. Ah, yes, a grandmother in an authority position.
No, not Golda. She was a schoolteacher.
July 19, 2008
Our nephew, Amos, passed away today, after a long and bitter illness. This news is for the family, scattered in different countries.
July 20, 2008
The funeral is tomorrow, leaves Amos's home at 2 and goes to the cemetery.
The only poem that comforts me is that of Yehuda Amichai, (I'm copying my translation but i have no written permission to quote it. It's simply grief that makes me do this. It came out in the Tel Aviv Review in 1988.)
Freed, freed. Freed from the body
and freed from the soul and from the blood that is the soul,
freed from desires and freed from sudden fears
and from fear for me,
freed from honor and freed from shame
freed from hope and despair and from fire and from water
freed from the color of the eyes and the color of the hair,
freed from furniture and freed from spoon knife and fork,
freed from the Jerusalem on High and from the lower Jerusalem
freed from identity and identity card,
freed from the round seals
and from the square seals
freed from copies and freed from staples.
And all the letters and all the numbers
which ordered this life are also free
for new combinations, new fates and new games
of all the generations to come after.
PLEASE DON'T QUOTE THIS POEM WITHOUT PERMISSION FROM HIS ESTATE.
There is another poem of his I'd like to translate, "The Wonderous Baker," about how he sits in Ramataim at the funeral of a man who's name is after a city in Europe. He's eating creampuffs and thinking of how brilliant the baker is who knows that the inside and the outside are the same.
BIG NEWS: The faculty of humanities has solved the crisis and will be publishing the catalogue of available courses on August 1. This means the best faculty of humanities in the country will continue to influence aspect element of Israel!! The agreement was just reached so you will read about it tomorrow, maybe. If you ask me, this would be the perfect time to start studying at Tel Aviv University.