How To Rescue An Airplane

We were in the Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv some years ago coming home from a long and amazing camp.

One fun thing of that trip was that after only one day of walking in Jerusalem, my favorite pair of sandals gave up. I had to put them in the trash and cared for the biggest blister I’ve ever owned.

Adults and children, the seventeen of us, were worn out from the intense travel in the past weeks and barely could standing on our two feet to go through the security check. I saw the security guard asking my youngest daughter to take off her shoes, and they searched them manually. I’d been in other airports before, but this was one very well watched. And that was good.
One of my friends and I were a little worried about the bag of dirt each of us had in our luggage, ( I like to bring dirt from where I go abroad, I brought some from China and they didn’t mind it.) We successfully passed the “dirt test” in Tel Aviv and went to the gate. They validated our tickets and showed us to the bus.

Here comes the mystery.

Everybody in the bus had a carryon, a bag, or something.
I watched that woman. Tall, thin, dark, curly hair, dark eyes with a pretty masculine forehead, her entire attitude was suspicious. My detective intelligence got alerted and I was Agatha Christie’s best friend. What was extremely suspicious for me was the fact that she didn’t carry a bag.

I looked at my friends, but I couldn’t share with them my discovery for the sake of keeping them at peace. I chose to bear this terror on my own shoulders, alone. I was terrified. I knew inside me that this woman was there to blow up the plane. People who know me have no doubt that I am a woman of action. That time, right there in the heart of our beloved Israel I was ready to step in and uncover the enemy’s plans.

We get on the plane and yes, I call the flight attendant and show her the questionable person on board.
“I watched her since we got on the bus. She doesn’t have a carryon, she is so serious.Please, search her. I’m sure she is up to something.”
I knew that my professional information along with my deep wisdom were rescuing a full plane of passengers from certain death.
“No, no, you don’t have to thank me,” I was ready to reply to the flight attendant who was staring at me with open mouth.

“This is an Israeli diplomat working for the Israeli Embassy in Bucharest, ma’am. She is just fine.”

I needed a glass of water.

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The Size of a Nail

When you are born in a world of fear, corruption and a particular level of poverty, your brain goes into the survival mode and you are less vulnerable. You learn how to manage it.

My parents didn’t have money to spend on what I wanted, but I knew what to ask from mom and what to ask from dad in order to get it. My father bought me books, notebooks, pencils, sweets and fruit. I didn’t need anything else to be happy after doing my homework when the weather was bad and I couldn’t go outside to play with my friends.
On the other hand, I could ask mom to buy me a piece of cake, and she would buy it. Chocolate, candies, mother wasn’t convinced to make the financial sacrifice.

I was my last year in kindergarten and it was my dad’s turn to pick me up at 2:30 PM and take me home. Mom was working the second shift. He opened the door to my classroom and caught my eyes. “Let’s go!” It was summer time and changing from the uniform into my light personal clothes was piece of cake. I placed my uniform and my indoor shoes in my locker and grabbed my father’s hand.
“Would you buy me a piece of chocolate, please?”
Tata (“father” in Romanian) looked at me with a sad smile.
“I’m sorry, we don’t have money for chocolate today.”

We got on the street and hurried to the tram station. There were crowds of people waiting, and when the vehicle stopped, everybody was trampling on everybody. Finally, we managed to get in.
The news that we couldn’t afford to buy a piece of chocolate wasn’t in fact news. That happened often, but sometimes because I asked again and again, tata would give up and make the investment.
“I need a piece of chocolate, dad.”
He didn’t answer. I could see he had a lot on his mind.

We changed trams, and after about 15 minutes, we finally got out by the market in the Iosefin area.
“Would you buy me a chocolate, dad?”
“I don’t have the money to get you a chocolate, my daughter. Why don’t you understand?”
“How about buying me the tiniest one?” I didn’t let go.
My father halted in the middle of the sidewalk and dropped his hands.
“What do you want: bread or chocolate?”
I looked at him with serenity and declared:
“Chocolate.”

He didn’t say anything.
We went and bought a loaf of bread from the bakery and took our way home by the Bega River. Just when I lost my hopes about my treat, we entered the small ABC store on Pop-de-Basesti street.
And dad bought me the minuscule piece of chocolate ever, “Dwarf chocolate”, the size of a nail.
That made my day.

Life Among Saints -1-

In the Christian Orthodox calendar every day is designated to celebrate one or more saints. From that perspective, with so many people named after saints, I can say I live surrounded by saints.
Sometimes that can be scary.

I remember my Psychology teacher when I was a junior in high school. Her first name was Maria.
Tall, thin, with the jaw bone sticking out, she spread fear around her, and she liked it. Comrade Maria was the communist leader in the school. She had the last word in many decisions.
We lived in the same neighborhood. From the seventh floor where we had our condo, I could see her balcony across the market and her shade growing big when she was passing by the window. It was pretty sinister, even though I had just decided not to fear people anymore, but God.
It wasn’t a secret the day I became a Christian. I was in her class, and her job was to find out such things.

One day during the lunch break I wrote on the blackboard for my classmates when and at what time my baptism was going to be.

Comrade Maria called me in her office. I was shaking, but determined not to show it. By the time I knocked at her door, something happened and she had to leave in a hurry. “Come tomorrow and we’ll talk,” she said reaching for her purse.
I can’t describe the emotions I went through the whole night. My brain was alerted with scenarios about what comrade Maria could ask me and what should I answer. By the time I walked the hall to her office next morning, my entire body was exhausted.
I knocked at the door. Nobody was there. I waited. My first class had already started, but I had let my teacher know about my meeting. All sorts of terrible thoughts were crossing my mind while waiting. They could expel me or hand me over into the hands of the secret police, the militia.

The first period was half through when I got back in my classroom. The teacher stopped from speaking and looked at me with concern. “May I?” I barely could articulate those words. She nodded her head and continued to stare at me, a fly sentenced to death.

Comrade Maria came back to school a few days after our appointment and something weird happened. She never asked to talk to me again. She never threatened me, like she did with others.
A week or two after that, the principal informed me that I couldn’t go to college. I was perplexed. Then I understood why comrade Maria didn’t need to talk to me anymore.

After a number of years, the communists lost their power in that corner of the world.

Two years ago I saw teacher Maria with the corner of my eye, when I visited my country again. We passed by each other in the crowded street. My feet stopped in the middle of the avenue while I was looking back. Her loop of hair was sticking up over the crowd for a moment, then it faded away.

That saint had lost her shine.