The Mysterious Texture Of Memory

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

Our opening move was brilliant, but it brought with it some complications as well. We sneaked quietly through the hardly used, narrow dirt paths, known only to us kibbutz’s boys we believed, and arrived at dark behind the big lawn some ten minutes after the film had already started. But no matter: we reached our destination safely, since the attention of the enemy was distracted by the sights and sounds of the film. At the same time, the consequences were that we’d missed the titles and credits at the beginning, and therefore the chances of learning the meaning, in Hebrew, of the three magical words in the film’s title—important especially for me—were reduced dramatically.

Still, I was undeterred. And fortunate enough, as my friends and I knew very well the layout of the big lawn, stretching like a giraffe’s neck between two rows of shacks. On the one side, farther away from us, the shacks were used mainly by young people during their army service, and by new Olim in the Ulpan, here in the kibbutz to study Hebrew. They could, had they wanted to, watch the film from their windows. On the other side, from where our young and small commando unit was launching its attack, the shacks were used as the clothes’ warehouse of the kibbutz, and also as its sewing-room. It was there that some of the clothes we uniformly wore were fixed and sometimes made. Twice a year, before Rosh Hashanah and Passover, we were fitted there with our holiday best.

Behind one of these shacks, our hearts beating madly, our threesome unit came to a stop. We used the carrots’ box as a stepladder and tied the rope to a post supporting the shack’s roof. We climbed up one after the other, and used the thick winter blanket I’d brought along as a silencer to muffle the sound of our crawling on the tin roof. Once our daring operation was accomplished, we lay down quietly on the blanket at the edge of the roof.

The scenery in front of our eyes was magnificent. Down on the lawn there was a large pile of people huddled together, as if hugged from both sides by the bushes, the trees, and the shacks. Two-hundred fifty people or so, about the entire adult population of the kibbutz, were spread beneath us on the big lawn. Most of them were couples in each other’s arms, but some—like my father—were alone with their film-recliners. At the back there were two rows of chairs for the elderly and the infirmed, and in their midst stood the film projector, sending beams of bright lights to plow the field of darkness ahead, and hit the big white screen in front. It stood tall and wide there, that screen, supported by two wooden posts. Behind it, the main dirt road traversing the kibbutz was winding, where the occasional tractor or car would pass by even during the showing of the film.


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