Ever since Yigal (my other half) retired from his high-powered high-tech career he has been involved in numerous non-high-tech activities. These range from pursuing his interest in art to become an expert in the paintings of Caravaggio, extending his study of the Ancient Near East to become a volunteer guide at the Bible Lands Museum, and imparting of his insights and understanding to teach courses in creative writing in our local pensioners association. In this last framework he has established a name for himself and a following, with new recruits to his courses swelling the ranks of each session.
This is an odd state of affairs. After all, I’m the one who writes books, but Yigal teaches writing (though not to me). There is, of course, something of a language barrier, as I write in English and his courses are given in Hebrew, but there is no doubt that he has developed a technique for drawing out the hidden writing talent of people who would otherwise never have set pen to paper. It is an admirable quality, involving psychological insights and literary skill, and is obviously much appreciated. So much so, in fact, that he was recently invited to attend the launch of a book published by one of his former pupils.
I accompanied him to the event, curious to see what form this book launch would take. I have published eight novels, and although the launch of my first book was hosted in her home by a kind friend, with a small gathering of friends and a sumptuous tea, I somehow ‘forgot’ to launch my subsequent books. They were published on Amazon, I tried to publicize their appearance through various internet intermediaries, and c’est tout.
The book launch in question was held one early evening in a nearby Moshav which provides venues for events of various kinds. As we entered the hall we were greeted by tables laden with light refreshments, with savoury items on one table and cakes and drinks on another. There was a bar seving wine and other alcoholic drinks, and chairs were set out facing a stage at the side of which a young lady was playing pleasant music on the piano. As more and more people arrived, some of whom we knew, the atmosphere grew warmer. The hostess-author of the book in question, a collection of poems she had written in the years since the death of her husband, moved among the guests, welcoming them and introducing them to one another.
After a while we were summoned to take our places and the ‘show’ began. About a year ago Ruti, the hostess-author, had left Yigal’s writing group and joined a different one, and it was the leader of that group who had instigated the publication of the book and also served as compère at the book launch. She introduced the author, who needed no introduction, and started the proceedings by inviting the pianist to play something. This was followed by a reading of a few of the poems in the book by an actor, as well as by Ruti and her teacher, an extempore speech given by Ruti’s son, Ran, who had flown in specially from abroad, where he lives and works, more musical interludes, some video clips of Ruti’s grandson, Ran’s three-year-old son, and more poems read out very expertly by the actor (also called Ran). After about an hour of this the event came to an end and everyone was invited to come to the central table, where Ruti sat in front of a pile of her books, and prepared to hand them out and write a personal note to each and every participant. When Yigal approached her she wrote a few words in flowing Hebrew, thanking him for enabling her to write, and when we looked at the list of acknowledgements printed on the flyleaf we found Yigal’s name there, too, as the person who had been the first to introduce her to writing.
The Hebrew title of the book can be translated as ‘And I Am Revealed With Time,’ possibly indicating that the healing process after the death of her husband has been long and arduous. Many of the 250 poems in Ruti’s book concern that loss and the sadness that has encompassed her since then. One can only hope that the process of writing and publishing the poems has been of therapeutic value and has done something towards helping to heal Ruti’s pain.