Sunday, 16 November 2014

...of guilt

One rainy summer day the children dragged Menuchim out of the house and stuck him in a vat, in which rainwater had collected for half a year. Maggots swam about in it, decayed fruit and mouldy bread crusts. They held him by his crooked legs and pushed his broad grey head a dozen times into the water. Then, with pounding hearts and glowing cheeks, they pulled him out in the joyful and gruesome expectation that they were holding a corpse. But Menuchim lived. He rattled in his throat, spat up the water, the maggots, the mouldy bread, the fruit rinds, and lived. Nothing happened to him. Silent and anxious, the children then carried him home. They thought they had seen God's finger shaken at them and the two boys and the girl were gripped with fear. For a whole day they said nothing to each other. Their tongues clove to the roofs of their mouths; their lips opened to form a word, but no sound issued from their throats. The rain stopped, the sun shone, the little brooks flowed gaily along the edges of the streets. It was time to launch paper ships and watch them sail along the canal. But nothing happened. The children crept back into the house like dogs. All afternoon they waited for the death of Menuchim, but Menuchim did not die.

[Job: The Story of a Simple Man, Roth, J.]

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