Trivial Pursuits {?} - Chapter 6, Part 2

Eos and I finished our dinner and walked back along the twisty path lined with all kind of nice little flowers and shrubs like purple iris and lavender. In between the plants, there were dripping irrigation tubes of brown or black, just like back home in my village, and also at the kibbutzim. Most people don’t know, but it was at a kibbutz in 1960 or so that an Israeli man with the name of Simcha Blass first laid down this dripping pipe. Well, there was always irrigation of this sort, but the tiny holes in the pipes were frequently becoming blocked by earth, sand and all kind of stuff like this. But Simcha Blass found some way to use friction instead of the tiny holes to slow the water down and save it. In a desert, of course each drop is very valuable and the drip method you’ll see everywhere.

Also on the path toward her place I saw something which was looking exactly like the reichardia tingitana flower, which I think is the scientific family name I read once. I don’t know how you are calling it in English but the flower is small and delicate and you can eat it. In fact, where I come from, the Bedouin people use it instead of lettuce for salads.

Anyway, as we walked I asked some few question to Eos about her mom’s cancer and she said the doctors had found a tumor in some lobe of the lung. She said they’d found it early enough and were able to remove the lobe using help from a video camera inserted in the lung. At that point, I wanted to make some jokes about the surgeon framing the tumor not in the center, but to the left like Stravinsky at the piano, but I thought she might not be appreciating my sense of humor in such a serious topic. I remember when my mother’s doctor first found her tumor, so it really wasn’t a funny matter.

We had just spent some few days in the Galilee for my oldest brother’s wedding. You probably have heard of this lush, beautiful part of the country because of the Gospels. Jesus lived most his life around places like Nazareth and Capernaum and, if I remember myself right, this is also where people say he walked on water—across the Sea of Galilee. Today, there are many different peoples living around there, including some few Circassian villages leftover from when the Ottomans were ruling the land.

Also today you’ll find many nice bed and breakfasts around the lush parts of the Galilee and it was on one of these that my brother got married. His wife, so her family has money—they’re Canadian and could afford a little something more extravagant than the usual Druze wedding at my village. So basically we were all having a very nice time, singing, dancing, eating and all kind of stuff you usually do at weddings. I remember making a toast to my brother and wishing him the good life in the future. In response, he said he wished that one day I will finally beat my computer in chess at the hardest level and everyone in the place thought that was just hysterical. The truth is, I still have never beat it at the hardest level, but my dad and I didn’t have room to bring it to the Winnebago with us, so maybe when I go back, I’ll resume trying.

When the wedding was over, we returned to our village and I thought everything would just go back to how life had been. But the very next day after we returned, my mother comes into my bedroom with eyes full of tears. At first I thought it was happy tears, because I saw her crying many times during the wedding ceremony. But then she sits down on my bed and tells me to put closed whatever book that was consuming me that week. And she wipes some tears from her face and says she has some news.

And that was how I found out about her breast cancer, which she’d known about for a lot of time, but didn’t want to spoil the wedding by breaking with the news beforehand.

Part of me understood her thinking. Part of me didn’t. Either way, all of me wanted to do something about this cancer, to stop it from spreading. But my mom, who was crying more now, said no. She said it was already spreading into many healthy places and she would fight it but probably lose, if statistics were anything to prophesize by.

I told all this to Eos as we were going back to her apartment. And I guess I was wishing she’d hang her dark, smooth arm around me and pull me next to her as we walked. Because what I felt like doing there, right beside part of Simcha Blass’s dripping irrigation tubing, was to cry a little, finally. The tears I was feeling were more for my mother than for losing on Jeopardy! but also for losing on Jeopardy! But maybe I was afraid Eos would think I was being a wimp. Or maybe I was just afraid. Whichever was the answer, I didn’t cry and she didn’t pull me close, though she did look at me with her big brown eyes and tell me she was sorry.

When people say they’re sorry for your loss, so basically it never really amounts to much. But for some reason, the way she looked at me when she said that, well I could feel something. And it was resonating around inside me like when you remember a nice dream, or when you beat your computer in chess, even if it isn’t the hardest level.

When we arrived back to her apartment, she asked to me if I knew The Master and Margarita by Bulgakov. When I said no, that I knew only the name, but had not ever read it, she took from her bookshelf a copy of the novel translated from Russian into English and said I should read it. She said it might help me to cope with my mother’s death and then told me a little about the story of writing the story and how Bulgakov lived during the dark Stalin days and never saw it published before he died because there were a lot of hidden meanings buried in the book about how the governments were censoring and all kind of things like this. And she said the story in the novel was her favorite of all stories because it was saying that things could exist even when they didn’t exist on the earth, like love between people even when they were dead. Or like a novel that the Master is writing inside Bulgakov’s novel about Pontius Pilate and his big problems in Jerusalem and all that famous story. Basically, according to Eos, the Master and his lover Margarita burn everything they own in a big fire, but the Pontius Pilate novel keeps living on inside the Master and Margarita’s heads even though it isn’t existing anymore in the physical world on earth and even though it will never be published.

And I liked this idea very much, and even more because Eos was the one presenting me with the novel to read. It was also a really good time for it because I was just finishing a book she’d checked out for me from the public library near Pan Pacific Park called The Measurement of Time by Claude Audoin, which is dealing with the physics of time and time measurement. Eos said The Master and Margarita was also about time, but it twisted time and it was full of magic and so I was becoming much more excited to begin it immediately that night and see what were all the hidden meanings.

Check out previous chapters of Trivial Pursuits {?} right here.

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