The Cabalist stood on the edge of his roof in new overalls and surveyed a sea of terracotta tiles. Just that week, in the storm, murky water had splattered their Sabbath tablecloth and stained its lovely white embroidered rosettes with black grime.
His son had said, “You have to fix it, Dad.”
So, Mendy bought overalls and climbed a shaky ladder. Rows of terracotta tiles rose to a dizzying height.
“You have to fix it, Dad.” His son’s eyes, sombre.
His wife had not spoken to him for two weeks. She sat in Sabbath candlelight, head in hand, fingering the embroidered rosettes as Mendy droned, “A woman of valour, who can find?” when the grimy water hit, and the woman of valour did not move.
“You have to fix it Dad.”
Mendy scanned the roof. It came to a point in four triangular buttresses.
He fingered his tsitsit, said Shehechianu, and began to side-step along the sloping edge of the roof. When he reached the east side he was sweating.
He scanned the slope. Tile after tile looped like the scalloped edges of his wife’s white scarf that he told her not to buy.
Dark clouds were gathering.
Mendy passed his tsitsit over his eyes, said the Shema, and took his first step up the slope. Another step. And another.
Clouds had begun to surge. And on the fourth step up the roof, his phone rang.
Mendy teetered, steadied, and tried to fish it out of a back pocket stiff with newness. Must she ring now?
By the time he got it out, the ringing had stopped.
Private number. But his heart sank. It wasn’t her, and he replaced the phone.
The roof looked steeper now. Tiles blurred and shimmered before him and cloud shadows rolled round and round like a merry-go-round.
Mendy swayed. “You’ve got to fix it Dad.”
He took another step. I raise my eyes … and another step. And another. And another. The higher he climbed, the steeper the roof.
He should have been at his desk, rising to the Sephiroth, coming face to face with the angel Gabriel. His wife’s voice stung the back of his neck. Call a plumber!
The phone rang again. Mendy steadied himself, feet akimbo, and struggled once more to get it out of his back pocket.
This time, the caller left a number. 18. Chai. The number for Life.
Mendy hit Call.
“Mendy,” droned a deep voice.
“Who’s this?” asked Mendy.
Mendy looked up.
Dark clouds were flying by when suddenly Mendy saw a dazzling pair of huge bright white feathered wings part the clouds.
He opened his mouth to speak when a voice from below penetrated. “Dad! Dad!”
Mendy turned and tumbled. He rolled down the roof, over the gutter, through the camellias, and fell to the bottom of their liquid amber, gaping at the passing clouds and angels’ wings.
The Cabalist’s wife came running out and stood over him.
Mendy smiled at the folds of her white scarf, scalloped edges blowing in the wind like Gabriel’s wings.
“You look like an angel.”
Esty thought the fall had affected his brain, because twice, three times, four times a day, Mendel the Cabalist told his wife he loved her. And day and night he kept dialling 1800 numbers.
Indeed, the doctors all concurred there was something wrong. But when the family sat at the Sabbath table together, and Mendy recited a Woman of Valour with a twinkle in his eye and Esty blushed and smiled back at him, their son grinned from ear to ear. Because, at last, he knew, his father had fixed it.
Anita Jawary presented a talk about her painting Kanumakan. See this presentation via the link below. Note – link only works on a laptop or desktop, not mobile.