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הסיפור "מגדה מאכילה חתולים" הופיע בזמנו בבמה חדשה במקור
בעברית
http://stage.co.il/Stories/537323494
 Magda Feeds the Cats  
©  Liora Sara Bernstein
[מגדה מאכילה חתולים - translated from Hebrew]



For many, many years, Magda would feed the cats.

This custom of hers came sudden and unbidden, like a weed
springing up into the world out of nothing, taking the earth
in the garden by surprise.

Magda`s earth was like a fallow field, brown and natural
and uncultivated. It resembled the façade of a
building in a nondescript town where visitors were greeted
without the affectation of sprinklers, decorative bushes or
a gardener, while the tenants seemed to have flung their
hopes up to the heavens, asking for nature`s grace and
favors to be delivered unto them without any human
intervention.

When this habit first took root in Magda - like a wild weed
or, as some might say, a noxious weed - it was alive and
green and dispelling bleakness and she didn`t have the heart
to destroy it.

The other tenants in her building didn`t know what attitude
they should assume to this deplorable habit. When they first
noticed her activities, they thought it was a passing fancy,
a one-time, once-in-a-while impulse, a fleeting seasonal
crisis, an eccentric woman`s whim; but when they realised
the activity had become a regular habit, they began talking
behind her back and turned their faces away from her if they
chanced upon her.

As time went on, some neighbours threatened and vilified
her; others suggested, with a smile on their mouths and a
friendly expression on their faces that she take the cats
with her into her living-room; some complained on the phone
to the Municipal authorities and asked that the activity be
removed elsewhere rather than in their yard. One morning she
even found a mysterious package lying on the steps in front
of her door, wrapped carefully in a nylon sheet, with at
least a one and a half kilo of rotten sausage meat covered
with a layer of white mould in it, - an anonymous gift to
the street cats or perhaps a veiled threat in the form of a
sliced-up animal.

Over the years, Magda developed a daily routine comprising
the cats in it : she would get up early in the morning,
almost at sunrise, sweep her home and prepare it for a
chance ring at the doorbell; from her window she would
observe the street-cleaners, equipped with little bins on
wheels, brooms and long-handled scoops; she would watch the
municipal workers as they entered the courtyards of the
buildings and dragged out the garbage-containers to the edge
of the pavements, she would peep through the curtain at the
routine scrounger who lifted the lids and scrabbled in the
bins searching for hidden treasures and watch how the cats
followed close on his heels and  jumped into the jaws of the
bins scavenging for food discarded by humans from their
plates.

Towards about eight o`clock, the other tenants` cars would
depart from the parking lot on their way to work and all
those activities would cease.

Then, when the empty bins had been restored to their
concealed places, and the observant and curious eyes had
disappeared, Magda would go down the steps outside into the
street, armed with a large square plastic box and a spoon,
to the corner, where some of those miserable creatures would
be awaiting her, and there she would portion out their food
on the pavement with the spoon and return to her home.


And this habit of hers clung to Magda and became part of her
personality, like a colored thread woven into a modest
fabric, and it stayed with her during her two short
marriages, when she moved houses, when her hair changed
lengths and colors and when her body filled out. Even when
she had found herself a lucrative profession and had a
family to visit on the Saturdays and the feast days, still
she would persist in this activity, which she had now
adapted to her leisure hours. And it was amazing was that
this woman, this quiet and unobtrusive woman, did not defer
to the wishes of the community and refused to bow to its
critical stance.


One day, on her way home from the neighborhood store, Magda
decided to stray from her regular route and take a slightly
longer road.  It was a golden sunny day, hidden bubbles of
energy darted in the air like sparkling wine, and Magda, her
hands not over-burdened with packages, felt light-footed and
heady, and suddenly yearned to do something different.  So
she turned left from the pavement into the old park by the
post-office, walked the length of it, looking around her at
the wooden tables, empty of nannies and nursemaids at that
hour, and started her way up the little street to the top of
the long hill, to reach her home from the back; in other
words, a little jaunt to sustain her soul.


For during the past few months many changes had been
witnessed in that high piece of ground that beckoned to her,
a street whose official name was graced with the word
"avenue", thought in fact it sprawled over a long, wide
space, covered with pebbles and thorns and few eucalyptus
trees of great dimensions, while its other half, the section
of the avenue that had inspired such a soul lifting
designation from the Municipality, lay across the street
some distance away from there. Thus it became an unholy
mixture of desolation and cultivation, like some mermaid
whose lower torso is a scaly, cold, wet fish while above the
waist she is a pretty young girl, whose wild-hair cascades
over her beautiful, naked breasts.  The lucky people who had
bought villas in the avenue more than twenty years earlier
had been waiting for salvation to arrive there in the  form
of paving stones and municipal gardening, and they might
have gone on waiting forever had not some well-to-do people
and renowned philanthropists  settled there, and raised
funds in memory of their dearly departed ones now in the
hereafter, and also graced with their contributions the
little synagogue hidden modestly in a semi-cellar basement
with  lowly looking entrance, which was situated at the rear
of a nondescript  girls` school for religiously observant
girls.

And from week to week there began to appear  in the area
alluring visions and lavish sights such as had never before
been seen or heard of in the ancient, non-refurbished
corners of Tel Aviv. This is where Magda went.

There was an attractive stone fountain that gurgled its fine
odor of chlorine in front of one of the villas with an
eternally evergreen plastic lawn laid out below it;  there
were  thick, luscious bushes planted around its hedges
suckling from the earth,  accompanied by clumps and bundles
of reeds and decorative plants in planned riotousness; at
the bottom of the hill, slightly further down, there
stretched handsome living lawns and shrubbery corners and in
the centre of a large circle in the midst of the homes, lay
a pleasant pond, about two-by-three meters large, which too
had been built by a philanthropist for the benefit of the
public and the community and who had it surrounded by
benches for the use of young ladies and boys of their choice
to meet in the mornings, when they played truant, or towards
nightfall.

Above all these there towered a stone cast memorial
sparkling with mica quartz and adorned with thick copper
letters, in memory of the deceased.

And this was not the end of it. The philanthropists`
contribution continued to spread towards the right,
reappearing further up in the form of a large playground for
toddlers with benches for their mothers to rest on. Here
there were swings, slides, small carousels, and even a
drinking fountain.  The old eucalyptus tree was not
uprooted, but was surrounded by a wrought-iron grille while
a twisted path wound its way, like in the fairy tales,
between the young trees recently planted in their pits and
among the olive trees that grew there saved from the fury of
the wood-chopper.  Wide beds of geraniums gave off their
perfume for the pleasure of visitors to the little synagogue
whose youthful days had returned.

And everything was tight and compact in this  small area,
here, in the wonderful, unexpected luxury of the rich, a
wonderfully pretty and European place to go to in the
afternoons and relax, or so Magda felt, in the tiny, hot,
oriental country of Israel, in Tel Aviv, where every square
inch of land is rare and expensive and there are no two
water outlets, a pond and a fountain, in such close
proximity and so privately arranged in the entire city...


Magda began to make pilgrimage to that hill, to the
"Tzameret", the "Heights'', as she called it, especially on
days when her heart widened out in a song like a chick
opening its gaping beak to its mother, and then she, Magda,
would take her heart to the garden where it would fill up,
engorge and be satisfied.

On one particular day, however, which had started out as a
simple communion with nature, it was ordained that this same
Magda would serve a higher purpose.  As she sat relaxing on
a bench, breathing in the cool autumn air and filling her
heart, her eye fell upon a miserable, thin little kitten,
circling around its emaciated mother, and it was clear to
her, though nobody would know how, that there was no milk in
those teats, while the female cat seemed very ill.  

Since her heart did not allow her to ignore them it was thus
that now Magda changed her old habit, and from that day on,
she set out after work with her ancient plastic box and
spoon to that garden, to feed the cats, to ensure that the
orphaned kittens would not die of hunger, and to pour water
in plastic dishes to quench their thirst.  And she always
made sure to take out enough for the cats waiting near her
home too.

Magda was happy with the change in her daily routine.  It
satisfied her because it combined several desirable
activities, such as a daily fifteen-minute walk in each
direction out in the open air - a healthy activity by any
standard - and placing a distance between herself and her
neighbours by conveyed her `madness` (having no other name
for it except the one the neighbors gave it) elsewhere, to
another, bigger and more suitable location.  There she could
devote herself to her activities and enjoy herself without
concern or pressure.  In any case, she did not seem to have
another alternative.  

The readers, who have been bearing with us all this while,
may ask us to pause here, so that they may ask a few
questions such as;

"What does she look like?"

and enquire "What? She goes there every day?" "That Magda?"


As for their unvoiced thoughts, however,- these can only be
guessed at or imagined, each reader according to his or her
nature and inclinations.

Magda was a handsome, tidy looking woman. At the time of our
story she was already past her prime. And yes, she did go
there every day, at about four or five o`clock in the
afternoon, depending on whether it was summer or winter
time, since  she adjusted herself to the cats' internal
clock, which was not regulated by human requirements.
Whenever she traveled abroad, she would take the trouble to
tell people whom she didn`t even know by name, that she,
Magda, would be away for a few days, or weeks and that was
that.

Her separation from her foster-charges was always difficult
and worrisome, but when she had left she would not think
about them anymore and when she returned, she would resume
her routine.

Thus, Magda resembled two Magdas, both of whom took
residence in her body, each one being well aware of the
other. Magda would sometimes wonder how it was that she had
been found worthy of such merit by the good Lord, or the
Infinite Cosmic Consciousness, that she was so favorably
weighed in His Scales that He bothered to bestow upon her
one and single body two users. In her lesser spiritual more
earthly moments, when a wall between her spiritual and
practical natures arose within her, she would analyze her
situation in logical and academic terms and wonder whether
an additional -perhaps unwanted - sliver of personality had
settled inside her; or she would consider how she might be
better off, in her present dual condition or if one of those
Magdas was excised from her being; or speculate whether the
two could be made to combine or when and where, if at all,
they had at first split up and gone their separate ways.

Thus, the two Magdas went about their - her - business -
businesses -, caring for cats and feeding them. They would
chat with the people in the garden, at times this Magda was
talking and at times the other Magda, and nobody paid
attention or realized who was speaking to whom, or who was
answering what, since it was inconceivable that nature had
granted an additional personality only to her, while it
discriminated against the rest of humankind. There must have
been more doubles concealed amongst the visitors to the
garden, or at least there were some, more cases like hers,
who lived at peace with themselves and their additional
selves, or may have even been conflicted with their
additional other yet they were still two and not one,  like
the heroine of our tale.

Magda liked the place best when it was empty of people,
because when she arrived the cats would emerge from their
hiding places and the crows would fly down and be
transformed from distant dots in the sky into birds as large
as chickens, landing on the street signs and lampposts, in
expectation of food.   The orderly feeding and closeness
were easier and pleasanter when there were no children
running around.


So, on one of those days, in the afternoon hours of the
month of Heshvan (around November), Magda was sitting on a
bench with her familiar plastic box at her feet, contentedly
observing the cats, which were scattered here and there
around the corners of the garden, each next to its own
little heap of food that she had provided.  They
concentrating on the food with exemplary order, not
scrabbling amongst themselves, but rather like a quiet,
disciplined school class on an excursion or at lunch-recess,
except that they did not chatter or make a noise like
children.


There were not many nannies or children in the playground at
that hour, but it was not empty.  She spotted a young girl
with three children of pre-school age with her, a boy and
two girls. Magda couldn`t decide whether the young girl was
an older sister or a child-minder.  She wore closed shoes,
stockings, a long, tubular skirt of milky-tea color with a
delicate pattern of small checks in the fabric, and a
long-sleeved blouse of similar color, with traces of pink in
the dominating milky-brownish hue, tucked into her skirt.
Her face was smooth and unblemished, and her eyes were
serene and pleasant.  The two girls that were with her did
not seem unusual to Magda, but the boy caught her attention
again and again. For he had large, transparent, blue eyes,
perfectly round like a doll`s, that somehow didn`t fit in
with his face, and both he and the young girl seemed to be
radiating around them a clear, transparent, invisible
light.

And different kinds of people used to visit the garden at
different times:

In the mornings, for instance, the place was empty and
somewhat abandoned, like a housewife who hadn`t as yet put
on makeup or dressed herself in her street-clothes to show
herself in public. At about eleven in the morning, some
youngsters would arrive, who perhaps had had enough of
school for that day and escaped to the garden benches for a
smoke, or a cold drink, or to gurgle a narghil, the native
word for a hookah. At these times there were no toddlers or
nannies in the garden - they had moved to another, more
shaded park across the street where the older youth did not
go.

Another group of people  would get there at odd hours during
the day, men and women accompanied by all types and kinds of
dogs, large and small, on a leash or free-roaming, which
were brought there to liberate their limbs and evacuate
their bodies.  The Municipality had placed a conspicuous,
large "Poop-bin" painted pink at the top of the path, for
the comfort of these animal-lovers, where they were supposed
to dump their pets` excretions.  "You don't mess up in Tel
Aviv" warned a green sign, bisected by a line and sporting
two bright-looking icons on either side, leaving no doubt as
to how to deal with dogs and their poops, before and after.
Municipal inspectors also roamed around, dishing out fines
to transgressors, steeper than traffic fines.

Yet is not our intention here, heaven forbid, to cast
aspersion at the municipality or its Sanitation Department.
These dedicated, righteous workers love all mankind and
animals equally and perform their creditable deeds, funded
by our municipal taxes, on the stray cats, by lopping off a
bit of their ear after having sterilized them and then
releasing them in the very place where they had been
trapped, so that people like Magda can tend to them and care
for them while the animal food and pet stores can make a
living out of them and bless them, and the veterinarians and
animal pounds can shelter them and watch over them with love
and all those people can be kept well and busy and stay
employed unlike so many other unfortunate people in our
country.


There also was a group of people who apparently just seemed
to have come to the garden through a kind of private
internal daily schedule of their own. From time to time they
would confide in Magda, sharing with her secrets about
events that had no place of existence in the realms of
cultured people and the media, and deposited these
unarchived  moments in the memory-bank of the cat-feeder who
always seemed to be there for backup, thus making them real.
For this is a profound and loaded question: do things
really exist if no-one knows about them or remembers them?
If a tree falls in a forest where no-one hears it, is there
a sound to accompany the crash or isn`t there?  

In one incident, for example, just so the reader who is
scampering behind the thread of the story does not complain,
there were those two women, probably in their forties, who
occasionally went for a walk along the path at twilight;
Magda would nod a greeting to them, and they to her, and
whenever they remembered, they would add a "Well done!"
exclamation to her feeding while she would reply with an
appropriate expression, such as, "Yes, cats are talking
animals".  

Then, as if to confirm her words, a cat with nipped-off
ears, a testimony to the activities of the Tel Aviv
Municipality and its veterinarians, would appear.  It would
purr and meow - ascending and descending emotional scales
gushing from its throat - with so much significance
concealed behind its tongue that it seemed clear that if
only it were created with just a pinch more of grey cells it
would be able to express itself in a comprehensible
language

 
Those women once told her -

"you wouldn`t believe it,'' said the first,
"yes, I was there,'' confirmed the other -

...that one day, while they were resting on one of the
benches, to smoke a cigarette or just stare into the air,
and the place was empty of people and children, they saw two
cats, males or females - who knows - entertaining themselves
in the playground installations. One cat waited on the sand
at the foot of the slide while the other stood at the top
and then slid down. They did so a couple of times. It was
something nobody would have believed them if they had told
it, and it was insignificant, could be recounted in one or
two sentences. Even Magda, whose experience with watching
animals was plentiful, had never seen or heard of such a
thing ever and might have dismissed such a memory from her
mind, but it is written at the mouth of two witnesses shall
a matter be established and she believed them.

Two main groups of people who frequented the garden were, of
course, the children who came to the playground in the
afternoons; the other group came from the
religious-observant community that congregated one way or
another around the little synagogue and its children, who
played in the playground as well. Towards sunset the men
would also arrive, in their various attires, and converge in
the direction of the synagogue.


Of the different groups of children who came to the park
Magda preferred those who had had a religious-observant
upbringing; they seemed less menacing to her. When a secular
child would shout, "Shoo! Shoo! Kishta!" and stamp his or
her feet and interfere with the feeding, she could say at
best, "That`s not nice, let them eat", that is, if the adult
with him hadn`t reprimanded him, and even so, only if the
adult seemed tolerant and unopposed.  But if a child of the
other kind behaved in this fashion, Magda had a winning
argument, and would tell the child, "That`s not nice,
weren`t there cats in Noah`s Ark?"  So in this matter she
felt that with them she had an excuse, an explanation and a
defense for her love of animals.

The little boy with the round blue eyes acted that way too.
He stood rooted to his spot, quivering like spring, and
though a movement was hardly perceptible in him one could
see that he was stamping and waving and jumping and hopping,
even though he didn`t do any of those things and just stood
on the same place, hardly moving, as he throbbed like an
electric machine connected to power and followed Magda with
his eyes. He too was glowing. She may have imagined it,
though. The two little girls in his company stood behind
him, like a backdrop for a photographer`s portrait, watching
Magda with their little faces leaning towards each other,
and above them rose the figure of the calm-eyed young girl
in the tubular skirt. She too seemed to radiate somewhat,
like the boy.  The boy held her hand and pulled her towards
the cats, she bent down and whispered a few words to him,
surprisingly in English.  Magda repeated her usual statement
on Noah`s Ark, and moved away a few steps to conclude her
business.  And that`s how it ended.  And he was a child of
about three years old, his hair was light brown, almost
yellow, he had large, round blue dolls` eyes, side-locks,
and a black velvet kippa on his head. Magda, who had
finished feeding the cats, turned away from there and made
her way home and forgot all about them. It was only later at
night, just before falling asleep, when the day`s memories
made their appearance before her that the scene emerged
before her eyes and her brain filed away the irradiating
people in the drawer of irrational personal experiences not
accepted by the mind.  And there she left it.

On subsequent days, Magda continued as always with her
regular habit, arriving at her destination in the afternoon
and feeding the cats, not taking particular notice of the
people in the garden or in the playground; neither did she
pay much attention to the young girl with the three little
ones, although she saw them there a number of times, and
everything seemed regular and normal and absolutely
acceptable. Until one day, when Magda was standing on the
path with her face towards the street preparing to take off
the young girl addressed her and asked,

"What do you feed them?" as she peered into the plastic box.


Magda too looked into the box, in which were a few uneaten
little swollen brown rings.  

And that was a different matter.  For when Magda wanted to
start a conversation, she would always try to do so from a
standpoint of superiority, from a distance, where she
couldn`t be reached, in an effort to confuse and bewilder
her interlocutor and not allow him or her to interject a
critical word about her interest in the cats. Of herself she
disclosed nothing, for that`s how she was with people: she
did not give - she did not take, she did not ask questions -
was not being asked questions. That`s how it suited her.  
Surely, she felt, there must still be places in the world
where a person could  retire into an invisible circle of
touch-me-not, unlike that little nation by the sea, where so
many sucked the essence of their vitality from gossip and
professional familiarity with the lives of celebrities, and
spent their evenings peering through the windows of their TV
sets at the socializing series that united the media
culture,  while others who refused to take part in this
culture turned to the worlds of imagination and fantasy, of
computer dragon mazes and adventures, making their way on
the material roads of the world through the projections of
others without a fragment of light.

This girl did not arrive from such a place. She came from
elsewhere, like the cats - with a difference, of course ! -
so Magda felt sorry for her and spoke to her carefully and
gently as if she were made of marshmallow, a fluffy, woolly
delicacy, soft and white, tasty, sticky and sweet.
"It`s cat food," she explained, showing her the contents of
the box. "You buy it in a special shop.  I pour water on it,
because it`s as dry as matza, so it won`t swell in the cats`
bellies," she ended her lecture, gave her a quick glance and
walked off.

But the next day the young girl was waiting for her, with
the little children who were probably in her charge.

"Do you always come here at four o`clock?" she asked.
"Yes," Magda replied.
"He has been waiting for you," the girl explained. "He`s
been shut up in his room all day and he wanted to go out.
He wanted to watch you feed the cats."

Meanwhile, a number of cats had emerged from among the
bushes and approached them, keeping a certain distance, and
the boy with the round eyes emitted a joyful, high-pitched
cry and ran a couple of steps, stopped and retreated, and
ran forward again and stopped and retreated, while the
little girls stood watching calmly by.

"Here, come and see how I feed them," Magda said to him, as
she doled out handfuls upon handfuls of food, placing them
about two meters apart, as she called the cats.  She looked
at the young girl.

"He`s not allowed to touch them, right?," Magda asked and
the girl nodded silently. For Magda knew, what some may not
know, that in their eyes cats are impure, and some even
believe they steal away one`s memory.  The boy watched,
standing again  rooted to the spot yet seeming to be
quivering like a spring, and Magda felt sorry for him too,
wanting to shield him from an accusation or guilt - for this
is how she understood it - that this child didn`t want to
stay shut up in his room at home, studying perhaps or
sitting quietly, for who knew how he was being brought up,
and she hunted for words that would be appropriate to the
spirit of this pure young girl who didn`t know what cat food
was and suggested to her, in the boy`s defense,

"It fascinates him. He is still small. He is very young and
it fascinates him because he is still nearer to creation,''
she said to her with a meaningful glance, hoping there was a
line of communication between them.

"Why don`t you bring him here a scooter, or a bicycle, or a
tricycle, so he can expend some energy, make an effort, ride
around?" she suggested.

"He does have a bicycle," replied the girl, "but he doesn`t
like to ride alone

"So bring one for his sister too," Magda dared to suggest,
although she didn`t know whether small religious-observant
girls in skirts were allowed to ride bicycles. "They could
ride together. Is that his sister?"

"This is his sister, and that`s a cousin," replied the
girl.


And that was how that encounter ended and Magda made her
way home but, for some reason that she couldn`t quite
fathom, the young girl and the little boy had lodged
themselves in her thoughts.


That night, before she fell asleep, they began to flicker
under her closed eyelids on her screen of memories, and her
brain began to weave sensitive, romantic scenarios around
them, where the boy was a future  Head successor of a large
Yeshiva in the United States, whose family, or at least some
of it, was then in this country for unknown reasons, and he
was the descendant of Geonim and Rabbis, being shut up at
home all day long, where his eyes encountered  only bare
walls and rows upon rows of bookshelves weighed down with
spiritual books, and he already knew prayers and
prohibitions, and the young girl was his older sister who
looked after him, and both of them were biblical creatures
with little knowledge of what went on around them in the
secular streets of Tel Aviv or how people behaved there or
what they  were selling in their stores, and they certainly
were not knowledgeable of the news on TV, of trivia games,
soap operas or mere scenes of lewdness that should not be
mentioned to them and from which they must be shielded.

For in fact, they were like the cats and other creatures
that needed to be protected from humans. And the chasm was
so huge and powerful between her and them that it was
amazing how they had opened up the gates to her imagination,
and she herself may even have been in their thoughts at that
moment too.

Thus it was that Magda met with this little family for about
two weeks.  And she made an effort to speak their language.
When the young girl asked her why she fed the cats, she
hesitated, and eventually, as she tried to explain the
beauty and the emotion she experienced in doing this, she
said to her, as if pronouncing a secret,
"We cannot see the Creator, but we can see His creation."

The girl looked at her and smiled softly, without showing
any surprise at her words, and added, unequivocally, "The
world has a Master", "Yesh Manheeg LaOlam'', and Magda
envied her the possession of that phrase, in the shade of
which she had grown up.

She explained to the young girl the significance of the
lopped-off ears of the cats, quoting from an item she had
once read in the newspaper, stating that two cats could,
under optimal conditions, produce about 25.000 cats over a
period of six years. "That is why they must be sterilized,"
she explained, "and then they guard their territory, destroy
bugs and field mice, and also become friendly and gentle,
because they are no longer ruled by their urges," she
concluded her little `expose`.

"That`s a demographic problem," suggested the girl,
surprising Magda by her use of that term.

On another occasion, when Magda flung a handful of cat-food
up in the air so it would scatter like seeds on reaching the
ground for the ravens that always watched from above like a
polite, patient crowd of spectators waiting for the cats to
disperse, the girl told her a complicated tale about a bird,
a raven, that flew over the seas and did strange things, and
Magda listened, but couldn`t recall the story.  The girl
seemed intelligent, apparently with a good brain that
absorbed and remembered what she had learnt and heard.  She
asked Magda if it was true that ravens flew down and pecked
out people`s eyes and Magda told her, "No, only if a chick
falls out of the nest do they watch it from above so it will
not be harmed, and they circle above and appear menacing."
Back home later that day Magda looked up an old book
entitled "All the Legends of Israel", to see if it included
the tale the girl had related to her about the mysterious
bird, but couldn`t find it.

The culmination of these happenings was reached when Magda
came to the garden one day with her plastic box and found
the four of them waiting for her expectantly and the girl
said,

"Today we brought a bicycle, like you suggested."  

They had a bicycle and a scooter too, and it appeared that
even before her arrival, the children had taken turns in
riding around, enjoying themselves and tiring themselves
out.  And Magda`s heart swelled, to think that her words had
reached their hearts.  And then she did something she
shouldn`t have done.

"What's his name?" she asked.
"Yossi," replied the girl.

And Magda stepped outside the invisible touch-me-not circle
that had always surrounded her and went up to little Yossi.
She crouched down on her haunches so she could look at him
eye-to-eye, and said,

"Yossi, say `Father, bring down the rain`." And Yossi
looked back at her and shook his head with a hint of a
refusal

"Yossi," pleaded Magda, looking at the young girl, "say
`Father, bring down the rain`",
Explaining to the girl, "because it is written that `out of
the mouths of babes and sucklings hast Thou ordained
strength`."

The young girl`s face lit up, and she too said to him,
"Yossi, say `Father, bring down rain`."

But Yossi refused, and Magda felt heavy sorrow and despair
descending on her slowly from above, for that year was a
year of dreadful drought, and the skies of the month of
Kislev were as clear as the skies of Tamuz.

And the next day they did not come any more.

Every day she waited for them to come to the garden, like a
cat waiting for the woman-person who brings it food every
day who has now disappeared and it awaits his food and its
innards grumble from hunger and sadness.  And at night her
imagination ran riot, and the little boy featured in her
visions in the form of "The Chosen" in Potok`s book, who was
distanced from love in order to develop the principle of
compassion in his soul.  She wondered whether the girl had
been forbidden to go back to the playground because the
people there were unsuitable for her to socialize with, but
eventually she regained her tranquility, and forgot.

Several years went by, and Magda was older in years.  She
had gone back to feeding the cats by the street corner only,
near her home, and didn`t go to the garden regularly. One
day, however, she happened to walk through it, and stopped
to rest on a bench.  She saw a cat sitting watching her from
a short distance, and she offered it some dry food, as she
always kept a small packet of it in her handbag.  Then a
woman sitting opposite her, rocking a baby-pram, stood up
and came towards her.  She was a young woman, dressed in a
religious-observant style.  The woman sat beside Magda with
the pram and said,

"You`re the lady who feeds the cats, aren`t you?"
"Yes," countered Magda, "but I don`t feed them here."
"But you did use to once, didn`t you?  You used to do so a
few years back."
"Yes, I used to feed them here too."  She raised her eyes to
look into the young woman`s eyes, and then turned them
away.
"Don`t you remember me?" queried the woman. "I used to come
here with three little children that I minded in the
afternoons.  With Yossi.  Do you remember?"

And Magda remembered.

"Where were you?" she enquired, "You disappeared.  You
didn`t come any more.  What happened?"

"The family went back to the United States," the woman
explained. "They had come for a visit at that time, and went
back."

"Is that why they spoke English and Hebrew?"
"Yes, at home they spoke English and outside, Hebrew.  But
they came back to Israel, and today they live in
Jerusalem."
"And this is your baby?" Magda wondered politely.
"Yes," her interlocutor replied.

The two women sat in silence looking at the swings.

"You know," said the young woman to Magda, "I gather all the
scraps of food at home and bring them inconspicuously to the
street corner.  For the cats.  My husband doesn`t object,"
she added, and a few minutes later she got up and left.

Thus it was.

And so it came to pass that hard as it was to understand
Magda, yet people deposited their special memories with her,
and she too was blessed, for her memory too remained with
others, with love.

"Yesh Manheeg LaOlam''! The world has a Master.







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בבמה מאז 26/9/17 13:45
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