The Mysterious Texture Of Memory

Below is the third segment of ‘The Mysterious Texture of Memory,’ a new short story—based, however, on my award-winning short memoir, the ‘Sweet Life.’

My father was a kind-hearted man but mostly sad. He made us hot tea in the winter and cold lemonade in the summer, always with toasted bread, then left us alone. He listened to the news constantly on the radio—television was yet to arrive in the kibbutz in the early nineteen-sixties, or in Israel for that matter—and read his left-leaning newspaper, On Guard, from top to bottom. When I asked him about the film, and what was the meaning of the title, he was surprised to hear about it since it was the first film to be screened outside on the lawn that year. In fact, he busied himself thereafter with getting ready for it. Out of his junk-filled little shade outside by his garden he salvaged his old film-recliner, a special device kibbutz members had invented and built, meant to support their backs and heads while lying down on the grass watching films. “I will let you know tomorrow,” my father said nonchalantly.

I heard that before, I said to myself, my curiosity far from satisfied. As a result, I skipped dinner with my small family that evening in the kibbutz’s dining room and returned promptly to my class-house. My roommates, Dani and Yair, were already waiting for me there, as we’d agreed ahead of time they would do, since eating was not as important that evening as watching the film. For that reason, we spent the next two hours—designed and meant to be spent doing homework—on devising and finalizing our plan of attack. Dani and Yair, unlike me, were not so interested in finding out the meaning of the film’s title, as in discovering the secrets behind the “Adults only” part of it. That was enough of an enticement for them and good enough for me, since all I needed was their cooperation in the planning and preparation stages, and participation thereafter in the daring operation itself. I got plenty of both, as it were.

But first, following a long secretive discussion—other boys, even girls, were not allowed into the room—we managed to come up with a plan. According to that plan Dani, the engineer among us (who later, after his army service, would work in the first factory to be built in the kibbutz), had to find and bring a sturdy rope; Yair, the enforcer (who later would fight and die, barely twenty, on the dunes of the Sinai Desert during the Six-Day War), had to find and bring an empty wooden carrots’ box; and me, the dreamer (who later would leave the kibbutz in search of his pipe dreams) had to find and bring a thick blanket. Which was an easy task for me, readily available. The difficult task was to summon the necessary determination needed to encourage my co-conspirators to stick with the plan, and not to give up on our quest no matter what, during the long night ahead.

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