By Esther Rapaport
“It must have been seriously traumatic for you.” Shifra’s arms were folded.
“Yes. I was very confused.”
Yoel was still standing near the counter, his cup of coffee resting near him. “Not to mention for Abba and Ima…”
“Yes. Abba was broken by the fact that for years, they had allowed a gentile to live in their house without knowing. The wine, the bishul akum, you know.… And besides that, Ima was also broken by the betrayal.”
“True, but she wouldn’t have wanted Anna to stay with them once the truth had come out, right?”
“Right.” Chaiky didn’t like Shifra’s cold analysis. “But this bombshell was still really painful for her. She would have wanted that Anna shouldn’t give up so fast on all the beautiful things she had learned from them over the years. That she should have argued with her aunt and uncle, and tried to find proof that they were lying, to insist that she really was a Jew… That she shouldn’t just get up and walk out like that.”
“Why should they lie about this?” Shifra was asking such annoying questions.
“Because if they suddenly took an interest in her and wanted her to get a higher education and whatever else she said, the simplest way to bring her back to them without any war with Abba and Ima would be to say that she was a gentile, and that would be it.”
“So why did they give her to them in the first place?” Now it was Yoel asking.
“Because when she was a little girl, it was very convenient for them that someone else should be busy with the exhausting job of raising her, right? And when she was big and could be more independent, then what was the problem?”
A depressing silence descended on the kitchen. Yoel silently finished his coffee and put the empty cup back on the counter. “In any case, Chaiky, let’s move on,” he said, passing his hand over his forehead. “The fact that a non-Jew lived in Abba and Ima’s house for seven years, and that it was very painful, doesn’t mean that anyone who comes to live in another person’s house for whatever reason, will suddenly be revealed as a non-Jew.”
“Of course,” Chaiky agreed.
“So as far as you are concerned, you can think about the idea of someone coming to live here with you and the children?”
“In theory, yes. We just need to check out who it is.”
At night, Chaiky dreamed of herself hanging a huge notice on the door of her office: “Seeking someone to live with me.” A moment later, Elka entered, dragging Noa and laughing gleefully. “Here!” she announced. “We found your person, Chaiky! Noa will be very happy to live with you!”
Elka cackling in her dreams woke Chaiky up, and she needed a few minutes to shake off the strange dream. Where did Noa live, come to think of it? Since she’d become more observant, she’d left her parents’ home, she’d related. This girl’s entire background was very murky, including details of her family and her current address. Apparently only Elka knew everything about her.
But as for the dream, she could relax. It was not going to come true. Noa wouldn’t want to come live with her, and she didn’t want Noa.
Having Noa at the community center was by far enough for her.
Esther Rapaport is a prolific author whose novels include Diamond in the Rough, Divided Attention, Behind the Scenes, Without a Trace, Dance of the Puppet, Blood Brothers, and The Kenya Conspiracy. She resides in Israel.