This new story by our guest author, Nurit Henig, is quite different from our usual material. A respectable, dignified and intelligent older person is telling a story his great-grandfather passed on to him, and which he wishes to pass on to new generations. Most appropriate for Personal Histories, you would say. Except… something here is a little strange…
An Imaginary Autobiography
This is what my great-grandfather told me when I was a child.
For many months the EYE hovered over the city, without eyelashes, without eyelids, dry and lusterless. Never shutting, never winking.
Someone said that at midnight he saw it shed a tear, but there was no other evidence, so we denied the rumor.
It was the size of an Arctic winter cloud with its edges fading away. It would mean nothing to someone who had never visited the North Pole, but we identified it immediately.
When it first appeared above the roof we expected the grey rain, silvery and warm, like the rain that surprised us in the previous few years.
But then its color changed into poisonous blue-green, and finally it stopped above the tower – in the middle of the square.
We knew we had to get rid of it before disaster struck.
But there was no chance of “Strong Wind” or “Unexpected Storm” or “Radioactive Rain” that would blow it to shreds.
You could not be sure of anything, so we decided to try other ways.
I have a wonderful new story from Nurit Henig; I am so thrilled to have another contribution from such a wonderfur author. This story is so utterly visual, so unusual, and so touching, and it relates the mother/daughter experience during hard times in such a positive and uplifting way, I find it quite unique. Enjoy!
By Nurit Henig
Mother looks at her face in the round mirror.
She moves to the side, disappears, and then comes back to me, inspecting, moving forward, backwards. She smoothes one cheek back, straightens it, and then the other, as if she was kneading, in soft plasticine, a face she promised would soon be beautiful.
The apartment is always crowded with people and children, sounds and noises inside and out. During summer our street is buzzing with human voices, on the sidewalks, the road, in the backyards; coachmen are crying their wares, neighbors chat from balcony to balcony. The houses are white, three stories high, and their roofs white with laundry. Noontime in Tel Aviv is hot and humid, only in the evening you can enjoy the western breeze as it comes from the sea.
Warning -- this gripping story is not for the faint of heart... but I am happy to announce that I have persuaded Nurit Henig to send us a wonderful new posting for Personal Histories.
THE MOTHER OF THE DREAMS
By Nurit Henig
Her childhood has not been more miserable than other children’s, except for the dreams that she remembers to this day, as she listens to her own children’s dreams and is unable to tell them about hers.
She remembers broken images, where she is abandoned, lost, coming home to a locked door, losing her book bag or being severely scolded by her teacher. Then in high school, during puberty, she died and was resurrected almost every night, until she was afraid to fall asleep. But the worst nightmare was “The Operating Room Dream” which appeared one night and stayed with her for years.
This is the Hebrew version of Nurit Henig's new story about the life and thoughts of a child during a war. I think it is universal to all children and all wars... and very beautifully written. Please wee the previous entry to read the English version! It's a little different from my usual postings in the way it was formatted, but this is because the site keeps arguing with me that it does not understand Hebrew, and I had to trick it by seeing it as a picture...
I am happy to post a second story by Nurit Henig (see her biography on the story "Yuda'le" below). Not only I find it an extremely well-writting story, but it is a powerful, universal account of a child's life and thoughts during war.
Children’s Games: A War Story
By Nurit Henig
The three of us, Nili, Koby, and I, sat on our sand hill which the truck dumped on the sidewalk.
The hill wasn’t only ours, it belonged to all the residents on the street, who filled sacks to protect the shelters’ doors from the air blast, but we turned it into a playground, and no one had the leisure to chase us away. It happened a little after Passover, and after I had celebrated my seventh birthday.
Mother thought I was too old to play in the sand, but there were no games in the little room we occupied on the third floor, except a box of Pick-Up Sticks, dominoes, two packs of cards the grownups used for playing Gin Rummy, and also an old chess set Father used to open when he was home, but he was at the wars for a long time. It was late afternoon on Friday so we knew we would have to separate any minute, since it was almost the Sabbath.
I am thrilled to post a new personal history from Israel! The story is generously given to us by a distinguished lecturer and scriptwriter, Dr. Yitzchak Enav-Winehouse. Enjoy! And please leave many nice comments since I hope to persuade Dr. Enav-Winehouse to send us more...
WHO ARE YOU, TEACHER?
Ever since I can remember myself, I have taught much but learnt so much more from my teaching. It all began a long, long time ago and in another country. I was then no more than a naive, twelve year old and there, wide-eyed in front of me were the “Kovshim,” the youngest age group in what is now the legendary Zionist youth movement of Hashomer Hatzair. The clubhousewas situated in the working class district of Hackney, the very heartland of Cockney London. These were kids who came from homes, like my own, where the only book to be found was a “sidur” or prayer book. They, like myself, would learn, in a movement which seethed with intellectual activity, of the worth and intoxication of reading.
I am delighted to post a very nice review that was sent to me by Dr. Yitzchak Enav (Winehouse), a noted lecturer and scriptwriter.
"I just found your delightful story: a lovely variation on Hamletian indecision and its devastating consequences. It has something very Jewish rather than Israeli about its tone. Yudale's procrastinations remind me of the Yeshiva Bochar dithering between two interpretations of a text, or the wondrous piece of dithering on the part of the protagonist in the film Chinese Take-Away. Terrific stuff!! Send me more ! Publish!"
Hi, everyone. I am delighted to post a personal history story from Israel! I am putting it first in the English translation, and then in the original language, Hebrew. Please scroll down to see this version, and forgive me for the imperfections in the formating of the Hebrew version-- the site is not used to it and it is fighting me tooth and claw. The story is generously given to us by Nurit Henig.
Nurit was born in Tel Aviv, and was raised in a neighborhood that represented a microcosm of Israeli society in all its complexity. She served in the Israeli Air Force, and then went to the University of Tel Aviv for a degree in literature and theatre studies. After completing her studies, she acted on the stage of the Ohel Theater, one of the first theaters to be founded in Israel, and stayed with it until Ohel was closed a couple of years later. At this point, Nurit started working for the distinguished Israeli Educational Television as a director of children’s programming. Later she
advanced to the position of a producer and an editor. During this time, Nurit enhanced her education by attending the highly regarded Sam Spiegel Film and Television School in Jerusalem where she studied scriptwriting.
By Nurit Henig
In the morning, when Yuda’le was informed that his mother’s condition deteriorated and he must prepare himself for the worst, he became terrified of the thought that his life was about to be changed beyond recognition. Since his retirement, he spent every day with his aging mother at the Healing Home for the Elderly. He had no wife and children; he had abandoned his only hobby, repairing old radio sets, a long time ago. Staying with his mother the entire day saved him from the need – to live.
Following retirement, after settling his mother at the home for the elderly, Yuda’le could have reorganized his life as he wished. For the first time, their small, crowded apartment was his alone, and he could do with it, and with his life, anything he could think of. However he could not clarify to himself what he actually fancied. His old friends either played with their grandchildren or passed away. The television supplied him with the news once a day; for more than that he found no time. He did not go to weddings; only to funerals of his few friends which he did not dare to miss.
Some things take longer than expected, but finally I do have good news on the personal histories front. I have received a fantastic personal history story from a wonderful writer in Israel. I am currently translating it into English, and it will soon be put on the site. I am hoping to place it in the original Hebrew as well as in English, because the language the author has used is beautiful and I don’t want it lost to us; I am sure some of the readers of this site speak and read Hebrew, too. I will present the author’s name and a short biography when I place the story on the site, and I hope to see many comments – since I would love to receive more of her beautiful work, and your comments may persuade her to send it!
In 2012, I am planning to return to collecting personal histories from people who have an interesting story about themselves, their families, or their friends. If you read the introductory article and the three examples I provided, you will see what kind of diverse stories I am interested in. The short term plan is to collect them in a blog that will appear on this website. The long term plan is to eventually prepare them as print and e-books, possibly arranged around several specific topics. I would like to know if there are enough people interested in joining the project – please leave a comment to let me know.