Sunday, 16 November 2014

...of misfortune

The brothers arrived home out of breath. Twilight had already begun. From afar they heard the sing-song of the studying children. It was wafted towards them like a mothers voice, like a father's words; it carried their whole childhood out towards them. It meant and contained everything that they had seen, comprehended, smelled, and felt since the hour of their birth: the sing-song of the studying children. It contained the aroma of hot and spicy dishes, the black and white shimmer of their father's face and beard, the echo of their mother's sigh, the whimpers of Menuchim, Mendel Singer's whispered evening prayers, millions of indescribable common and special experiences. Both brothers reacted in the same way to the melody which floated towards them through the snow as they neared their father's house. Their hearts beat in the same rhythm. The door flew open at their approach; their mother, Deborah, had watched them coming though the window.
'We have been taken,' said Jonas, without any other greeting.
A dreadful silence suddenly filled the room in which a moment before the voices of the children had sounded, an infinite silence much vaster than the space which contained it, and nevertheless born out of the one little word 'taken' that Jonas had just spoken. In the middle of a word that they had memorised, the children stopped their lesson. Mendel who had been walking up and down in the room stopped in his tracks, stared before him, lifted his arms and let them fall. The mother, Deborah, sank upon one of the two stools which always stood near the stove as though she had long been waiting to take up the role of a mourning mother. Miriam, the daughter, groped her way to the corner; her heart beat loudly; she thought that everyone must hear it. The children sat as though nailed to their places. They legs in gaily striped woollen stockings, which had swung continually through the lesson, hung lifeless under the table. Outside, it snowed uninterruptedly, and the soft white of the flakes sent a dull stream of light through the window into the room and upon the faces of the silent people. Sometimes one heard an ember crackle in the stove, and the gentle rattle of the doorposts as the wind shook them. With their sticks still over their shoulders, the white bundles still on the sticks, the brothers stood in the doorway, heralds of misfortune and misfortune's children.

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

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