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Barukh’s first Israeli dead

it happened when
barukh and fred
went shopping
to the small store
in be’er ora
for the first time

after they’d moved there
from elifaz
the tiniest kibbutz on earth

be’er ora
with its thousand residents
and small village store
seemed like
a metropolis
in the middle of nowhere

barukh and fred
talked to each other in hungarian
during shopping

they had known
where the hungarian speakers lived
on the kibbutzim and moshavim
in the arava desert

they had known
that there were zero hungarians
living in be’er ora

at least they had thought so

thought it wrong

as they were standing in line
at the cashier’s
a raspy
hoarse voice
of a woman from budapest
sounded suddenly
right behind them:

nahát
wow
until now
i have never heard
anyone
here
speak hungarian

she said

barukh and fred
the two „social animals”
curled into a prickly ball
in a heartbeat
cowered and lowered their ears
and answered ági
very curtly

something
along the lines of

ó, igen…?
oh, yeah…?
ha… ha…

or something like that

barukh can’t even remember
if he looked at ági at all
at the time

they paid
and smiled awkwardly
at the hungarian woman
with their usual clumsy politeness
then fled the small store
as quickly as possible

it’s difficult for barukh
to deal with hungarians

anywhere

but especially in the desert

hungarians
as a rule of thumb
not all of them
but most of them
don’t have a sense
of personal boundaries

they sense
and respect boundaries
only on the social scale

up and down the hierarchy

therefore hungarians
as a rule of thumb
not all of them
but most of them
have a tendency
to barge into
other people’s
personal space
and life
and soul
with unsolicited gossip
unsolicited advice
and laying claim
on other people’s time
and property

especially
if they consider
those other people
to be on the same rungs
of the social ladder

in the desert
it is particularly difficult for barukh
to deal with hungarians
due to the lack of barriers

there are few terrain features
few natural boundaries
physical structures

you can barge
unhindered
into the personal space
and people’s lives
and souls

that’s why barukh and fred froze
like deers in the headlights
when at the end of the world
in the middle of the arava
ági spoke to them in hungarian …

probably
ági must have felt something similar
when she’d heard
the two hungarians talk
standing in front of her in the line
in the small be’er ora store
because afterwards
she gave no indication
whatsoever
that she wanted any further contact
with the new hungarians
aside from a hello-hello …

the ice started to thaw
when first judit
then fred
began to work
in the be’er ora kindergarten
where ági also worked as a metapelet

fred became accustomed to ági
being there
and judit actually started
to get friendly with ági

it turned out
that none of them
wanted to get anything from the other
that the other wouldn’t want to give …

however
these daily friendly encounters ended
the way they usually end
in the event of desert friendships

one of the parties moved away

in this case
barukh’s family did

the connection remained
although only on the phone …

months passed
the corona came

and ági got sick
not of corona

she started chemotherapy
in be’er sheva
and became much weaker

and judit very much wanted
for ági to heal and live on

she was her motherly friend

and barukh started to pray
three times every day
for ági’s complete recovery

especially because of judit

once
barukh had had a coffee with ági
but they hadn’t become friends

for barukh
ági remained
judit’s motherly good friend

up until the day
when in the summer
barukh travelled with L
his younger son
to be’er ora
to visit L’s friends in the desert

and barukh booked a room
as luck would have it
right next to ági’s house

barukh sent a message to ági
that he was in be’er ora
and he would be happy
to visit her
if she felt up for it

ביקור חולים
the mitzvah of visiting the sick

ági didn’t answer

it happened
only the next afternoon
that she called barukh
and told him
that she had been very weak
not strong enough
to see him

and barukh sat down
on the side of his bed
his phone in his hand
and talked to ági
who was only a couple meters away
on the other side of the wall
lying in her bed sick

and barukh asked ági
about her treatment
and ági gladly told him
about the kind of particulars as well
that she probably
wouldn’t have had the courage
to tell him
face to face
but from the other side of a wall
on the phone
she did

barukh felt
that ági’s openness
was in part on account of judit and fred
those months they’d spent together
in the kindergarten

and in part
it spoke
to the other hungarian in the desert
who knew
what it meant
to live in be’er ora
after living in budapest
and who could imagine
what it meant
after living in hungary
dying in the desert …

and ági talked and talked
and barukh listened
and sometimes
they even sniggered a bit

at how miserable it all was

and then barukh and L
travelled back to jerusalem
and barukh kept praying
for ági’s complete recovery

but now for ági herself
not only because of judit

and so it happened
that during the summer
barukh travelled to be’er ora
twice again
with his sons
and both times talked to ági

long talks

on the phone

from the other side of the wall

from a safe distance
in safe proximity

two hungarians in the desert …

for the last time
they talked at the end of august

afterwards
all barukh knew about ági
was what judit told him

finally
that ági died …

ברוך דיין האמת
blessed is the true judge …

szia
ági!
good-bye

we’ll continue
in the desert up in heaven

די!
just kidding

at lake balaton in heaven!

About the Author
a wandering aramean poet / born in hungary / living in israel / longing for a home / and peace / outside and inside // he writes about his new life / and his old one / his adhd and asd / his adonayush / and war and coexistence / in israel / in the middle east / and in the world // hundreds of his poems are available in hungarian / and in a weekly increasing number also in english // “self-appointed poet” (“önjelölt költő”) / his first book of poems / was published in budapest in 2021 / "twelve points of barukh" ("barukh tizenkét pontja") his second book was published in 2022 // he lives in the kurdish suburbs of jerusalem / with his wife and two sons
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