Hassan

how old is hassan?
twenty-five
perhaps
but maybe
only twenty

something between
twenty and twenty-five

he was the first arab
barukh met
in israel

the year before last
in the winter
one and a half year ago

hassan worked at the competition
ahmed’s company
that also specializes in
building and repair

if there was a bigger project
in the arava
they were called
ahmed and barukh’s boss
to work together
on the project

that’s how barukh and hassan met
in newe harif
which is a kibbutz
with unique atmosphere
barukh is going to write about
maybe

they were building
small houses
with a small kitchen
with a small bedroom
with a small toilet
for guest workers

barukh and his boss
were installing doors
in the small houses
bathroom doors
bedroom doors
front doors

hassan was doing the tiling
floor tiles in all the houses
tiles in the bathrooms
and kitchens

ahmed usually worked together
with hassan and his other workers
but somehow that day
hassan had to do the tiling
alone
ahmed drove him in the morning
and picked him up in the evening

before
when barukh had met people
in israel
and had told them
that he had been a new immigrant
people usually
had brightened up
and had told barukh
something
sympathetic
and encouraging

hassan had been the first
who hadn’t smiled
when barukh had introduced himself
that winter

on the contrary

he had looked at him
as if he had been just another colonist

keeping his distance
distrustful

and that hadn’t changed for days

everybody was doing their jobs
barukh and his boss busy with the doors
hassan busy with tiling
and doing not much talking

then one afternoon hassan
accidentally
hit his head hard
on a wooden board
fixed at head height
by barukh and his boss
to fasten a new
door frame

hassan got dizzy
as his face got hit
then his nose started to bleed

blood was flowing

hassan tried
to hold his head up

then tried to mop up
the blood

then he held his head up high
again

then he sat down
sat for a while
then stood up
sat down again
then stood up

he couldn’t handle
the sudden pain
and adrenaline

he wanted to share
his shock with someone
but there was no-one

he was alone

barukh’s boss looked at him
asked him
if everything was alright
and when hassan nodded
barukh’s boss
kept working

barukh kept working with him too
but he was watching hassan all along
and thought
how shitty he would feel
in his place

so
suddenly
he put down the door
he was working on
and went up to hassan
and asked him
if everything was alright
when hassan nodded
barukh didn’t go back to work
but asked hassan
if he wanted a painkiller
hassan didn’t

but he showed him his wound
and asked barukh
with a desperation in his eyes
if his teeth was broken

as it turned out
it wasn’t his nose
that was bleeding
as barukh had thought from a distance
but the upper gums in his mouth
that he had hit those on the wooden board

barukh gesticulating wildly
calmed down hassan
that all was well
there was only a wound
that was bleeding
nothing
was broken

hassan sat down again
a bit calmer now
but still
full of adrenaline

and barukh sat down with him

that’s how they sat
in silence

because although hassan
spoke hebrew quite well
barukh hardly did
at the time

next morning
when they met again
barukh asked hassan
how he was feeling
and hassan showed him
his upper gums smiling
with the wound still there
but not bleeding any more

that’s how
the friendship
between barukh and hassan
started
that required no words

every time they met
they smiled at each other
as those who share a story

and hassan every day
when he worked at the same place
with barukh
prepared for him
arabian coffee
once around 10-11 in the morning
and once after lunch break
and barukh said shukran
for the coffee every time
which in arabic means
thank you

last year
one of the first summer days
half a year after they had first met
barukh and hassan
worked together again
on a joint project

it was hot
40 degrees celsius in shade

hassan was doing tiling again
and barukh was tearing down a wall
which is the deadliest work
among those
barukh has ever done

barukh was holding
the ten-kilo weight
of the demolition hammer
pushing it to the concrete wall
sweat pouring off him
concrete shards splintering off the wall
covered his face
and his whole body

it must have been around noon
when the heat
and tearing down the wall
together
knocked barukh down

barukh got dizzy

he sat down on the ground

the world was spinning around him

spinning
spinning
spinning

then the spinning started to ease
and slowly was gone

as barukh lifted his head
he saw hassan
standing in front of him
handing barukh
a bottle of ice tea
and a pack of biscuits

barukh reached for the ice tea
took some swigs
then stuffed some biscuits
into his mouth

then hassan sat down
next to barukh
and waited patiently

when barukh looked at him
hassan only said

it’s hot

then they sat together
then barukh said

i am travelling to hungary next week

hassan stared wide eyed
and asked

are you moving back?

no
just a holiday

said barukh

hassan then smiled

relieved
joyful

whoever tells
which footprint on the photo
belongs to the jewish barukh
and which to arab hassan
barukh will pay them a beer

About the Author
Barukh is a Hungarian-Israeli poet. He and his family have started a new life in the desert. He writes therapeutic free poems about soul, home and world peace. Barukh is me.
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