Today I met a naked, chubby little putto by the pool on our kibbutz in the Arava. He hid behind the lifeguard’s hut. He was crying alone. Crying his heart out. First I thought it was one of the kibbutz kids. Only when I stepped over to him, I caught sight of his wings.
’Do you want some water?’ I asked him.
He startled as he looked at me frightened. Only when he saw I wasn’t about to hurt him did he nod tentatively. I gave hime my bottle of water and he took a few sips.
’What happened?’ I asked.
He started to sob desperately.
I didn’t know what to do. I sat down next to him in the grass. I put my hand on his head. He wasn’t a blond putto with blue eyes. But a dark-skinned Middle Eastern angel with black hair.
As his painful sobbing came to a halt he lifted one of his wings and turned to show me his back. He was hot-iron branded with a swastika mark. Deep into his skin. It must have been done recently – there was blistering and swelling around the swastika.
I felt horrified.
’Who did that?’
After a short pause he answered.
’Angels,’ he sniffed.
I didn’t understand.
’In the Heaven,’ he said.
’Because I wanted to come down to the Earth.’
’I don’t understand…’
’I wanted to live on the Earth. I always felt I belonged here,’ seeing my suprise he added: ’Like you.’
I stared in confusion.
’You can’t leave Heaven,’ he said softly. ’Who he leaves, is guilty. Cursed. Damned.’
’Gets branded with hot iron…’ I whispered.
He lowered his wing modestly.
’Can angels’ wounds become infected?’ I asked.
He gave me a weary smile.
We looked at each other.
’Is there anything I can do for you?’ I asked.
’What are you going to do?’
’I will live here. I can’t go back.’
’People are not angels, either.’
’I hope not,’ he said and smiled faintly.
’With your wings, you’ll never be one of them.’
He looked at me like he already knew that, but still wasn’t happy to hear it, too.
’Can I get some water?’ he asked.
I gave him the bottle. He took a large gulp, then gave the bottle back to me.
’Keep it,’ I said.
’Thank you,’ he slowly stood up. ’I’d better go.’
And started to walk away. In the desert. Towards North.